Former Thai Leader Faces Extradition

By webadmin on 11:24 pm Feb 27, 2009
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Bangkok. Thailand’s prime minister said on Friday that authorities will attempt to extradite the country’s fugitive former leader Thaksin Shinawatra — if they can find the globe-trotting tycoon.

Thaksin fled the country last year before a court found him guilty of violating a conflict of interest law. Critics accuse him of massive corruption during his six years in office.

“We will see if we know exactly where his whereabouts are and with the country agreeing to the extradition process, we will push ahead’’ with the extradition, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said. “It’s important for Thais to be under the same law.’’

Thailand’s military ousted Thaksin in September 2006, accusing him of corruption, abuse of power and showing disrespect to the country’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thaksin was in New York at the time and stayed in exile until February 2008. He fled the country before the October court ruling but was convicted in absentia and sentenced to two years in jail.

Since he fled, Thaksin has been spotted in Dubai, mainland China and Hong Kong and was living on-and-off in London until Britain revoked his visa following the conviction.

Kamnuan Chalopathump, one of Thaksin’s lawyers, said the media tycoon has been traveling in Africa and Central America recently. But Kamnuan said he did not know where his client was now and had not heard any response from Thaksin regarding the extradition threat.

Thaksin is scheduled to speak on Monday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong. He is a regular visitor to the city.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said there is no extradition treaty between Thailand and Hong Kong, but said it could not comment on individual cases.

After the 2006 coup, the military oversaw the adoption of a new constitution and installed an interim government that controlled the country until elections in December 2007 brought Thaksin’s allies back into power.

The pro-Thaksin governments of 2008 endured months of militant demonstrations that culminated in protesters taking over the country’s two main airports in Bangkok.

At the same time, a series of court rulings resulted in the ouster of two Thaksin-allied prime ministers and the banning of the key parties in their coalition governments.

Associated Press