Thailand: Thaksin Pleads Not Guilty on Eve of Trip to Britain
The independence of the Thai court under Samak’s rule is put to the test. Thailand’s legal system, but not exactly its court, has shown its “independence” before by finding Thai Rak Thai guilty of election fraud during the heyday of anti-Thaksin fever. With PPP seen as a Thaksin front for now, the proceedings of the court in pressing corruption charges on Thaksin would be signs for Bangkok pundits on how much the way is paved for Thaksin’s political comeback. April 29 is the day to watch.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister who was ousted in a military coup in 2006, pleaded not guilty before the Supreme Court in Bangkok in one of two criminal corruption cases against him. He is accused of using his office to win a prime piece of Bangkok real estate for his wife in 2003. The court set the next hearing for April 29. Mr. Thaksin spent 17 months in voluntary exile, mostly in London, and returned to Thailand last month after a new elected civilian government led by his allies took power. The court also excused him from having to appear at every hearing, as requested by his lawyer. The court session came just a day before he begins a monthlong trip to Britain to cheer on Manchester City, the English Premier League soccer team he owns. The court granted him that permission on Tuesday.