Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Court will be asked to seize Thaksin's assets

Court will be asked to seize Thaksin's assets

Extradition application to be filed in UK soon


Authorities have moved to seize the assets, revoke the diplomatic passports and seek the extradition of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, who have skipped bail and fled to London. The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) has set up a team to seek the extradition of Mr Thaksin and his wife.

The OAG is also expected to apply for a court order next week for the seizure of the Shinawatra family's assets, worth about 76 billion baht _ mostly now frozen at local banks.

Deputy Attorney-General Chullasingh Wasantasingh is likely to head the extradition team, said Kosolwat Inthuchanyong, an OAG assistant spokesman. The application would be made under the terms of the 1911 Siam-Great Britain extradition treaty.

He said the process should not take long because the possibility of seeking the couple's extradition had been examined in depth before they returned to Thailand early this year.

Mr Kosolwat said the authority to seek their extradition rests with the OAG because the couple fled while being tried in court.

''But if Mr Thaksin seeks asylum in Britain it will complicate matters,'' Mr Kosolwat said.

In a hand-written statement faxed to media outlets, the ousted prime minister claimed he fled overseas because the justice system in Thailand was being meddled with and he might not receive a fair trial.

Deputy Attorney-General Waiyawut Lortrakul, head of the prosecution team in charge of the Assets Scrutiny Committee's cases, said the prosecution had finished drafting the civil suit seeking to confiscate Mr Thaksin's assets.

He expected the case to be lodged with the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions next week.

Mr Waiyawut said the decision to seize the assets was made at a meeting of prosecutors and the National Counter Corruption Commission, which has taken over cases from the now-defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC).

Before the handover, the ASC charged that Mr Thaksin had dishonestly accumulated wealth while in office.

The ASC, which was disbanded in June, had already frozen assets worth 69 billion baht held by Mr Thaksin and his family members in 16 bank accounts.

Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag said yesterday the ministry will make it a priority if there is a request by the court or the prosecution to revoke Mr Thaksin's diplomatic passport.

So far, the ministry had not received a request or documents relating to warrants for the arrest of Mr Thaksin and his wife, he said.

''The ministry will look into criteria for granting or revoking diplomatic passports when there is a chance to ensure that it properly observes the law as well as the ministry's directives,'' he said.

Mr Tej said the ministry will consider what actions to take over the extradition process when it has been properly informed of the situation and legal procedures.

Sitthichoke Sricharoen, head of a legal team representing the ASC, said the couple's escape reflects their intention not to fight the charges.

However, they can still defend themselves by submitting their testimony in writing.

He also underlined that the charges against the couple are not political, but criminal.

Dej-udom Krairit, chairman of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, yesterday lambasted Mr Thaksin for attacking the judiciary in his fax.

Mr Thaksin claimed the legal procedures against him were like the fruit of poisonous trees and his cases prejudged.

According to Mr Dej-udom, Mr Thaksin was the poison.

He also urged police to post warrants for the couple's arrests at every port, airport and border checkpoint.

Wednesday August 13, 2008
Bangkok Post
General News

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