06/13/2007, 00.00
THAILAND

Thaksin can return but his life is in danger, says government

The leader of the ruling military junta claims the authorities cannot protect him if he returns. The assets of the former PM’s and his wife worth more than US$ 1.6 billion are frozen. He calls the decision a political attack and vows to take legal action, if necessary at the international level.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – If former PM Thaksin Shinawatra comes back to Thailand his life might be in danger and the authorities cannot guarantee him his safety, this according to General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, leader of Thailand’s ruling military junta and chairman of the Council for National Security, who was responding to questions about the ousted leader’s possible return following the Assets Scrutiny Committee’s decision to freeze his assets and those of his wife Pojaman.

Through his lawyer, Thaksin said that the decision is “a powerful reminder to all that Thailand remains in the grip of military rule that is divorced from the rule of law” and that he will “vigorously evaluate all international options to protect his rights and interests” including taking legal action against the Assets Scrutiny Committee.

Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer, added that the decision will force him to come back quickly to fight the charges.

On Tuesday, current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said that Mr Thaksin was free to return, and that he would personally guarantee his safety. 

Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin also gave assurance that the ex premier would not be detained or barred from engaging in political activities when he returns home. But unlike PM Surayud, the general warned that since there are many people who oppose Mr Thaksin, his return could put his life in danger.

The decision to freeze Mr Thaksin’s accounts worth 52.9 billion baht (US$ 1.63 billion) was designed to hit the profits he made from the January 2006 sale of Shin Corporation.

That decision has led to Thaksin being accused of corruption and abuse of power for allegedly using his office to increase the value of the stock of the telecommunications company before selling it.

In his defence Thaksin said he had transferred company ownership to his two sons before he entered politics in 2001.

Now he has 60 days to appeal the decision.

Mr Thaksin, who was abroad when a military coup ousted him in September 2006, never went home.

In May the country’s Constitutional Court disbanded his party, Thai Rak Thai, and declared him and the party’s other leaders ineligible to run for public office for five years.

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