Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thaksin Case Suspended

Next time you have a Coup, make sure the guy you want to put on trial is still in the country.

Thailand suspends graft hearings against Thaksin

Thailand's Supreme Court said Tuesday it would postpone corruption hearings against ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra because of his prolonged absence from the kingdom.

Thaksin and his wife Pojaman, who have been living in London since a coup overthrew Thaksin's government last year, face charges of corruption and conflict of interest over a controversial real estate deal.

The Supreme Court issued arrest warrants against the former first couple in August, but they have refused to return to Thailand, with Thaksin repeatedly saying that he would come back only when democracy was restored.

"The court cannot proceed (with the) hearings as the two suspects cannot come under court authorities," said Tonglor Chomngarm, head of a panel of nine Supreme Court judges hearing the graft case.

The court did not set a new date for hearings.

Thaksin and Pojaman's lawyer Pichit Chenban thanked the top court for the move and said he was "glad" about the decision.

Prosecutors also told the Supreme Court judges that they were pursuing the process to get Thaksin extradited from Britain, with officials expected to fly to London in early October to start talks with British authorities.

"We are working on documents to prepare for his extradition," said Thai prosecutor Sakesan Bangsomboon.

He said they were hopeful that Thaksin could be extradited back to Thailand within 90 days of their London trip.

Thaksin is accused of illegally influencing a deal in 2003 allowing Pojaman to buy prime Bangkok real estate from a government agency for 772 million baht (22.7 million US dollars), about one-third its estimated value.

Thaksin, who owns Manchester City football club, denies the charges, as well as a dozen other corruption complaints bring brought against the billionaire at the behest of the Thai junta.