Thai court approves warrant on terrorism charges for Thaksin

A Thai court on Tuesday approved an arrest warrant for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges, which carry a maximum penalty of death, in connection with recent violent protests.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government has accused Thaksin of inciting unrest and bankrolling the mass rallies by the opposition “Red Shirts”, many of whom seek the return of the former telecoms tycoon.

Details of the charges were being read out at the Criminal Court, a day after testimony by the Department of Special Investigations into Thaksin’s alleged involvement in the protests.

Shortly after the court announced its decision, Thaksin’s lawyer, the London-based Robert Amsterdam, said the government “has perverted justice through the laying of a charge that violates logic, law and any claim of hopes for reconciliation.”

“A court found there was enough evidence so it issued an arrest warrant,” Naras Savestanan, deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), told reporters after the closed-door hearing at the Criminal Court.

“Now it’s the attorney general’s job to enforce the warrant,” he said.

Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile, mainly in Dubai, to avoid a jail term for corruption. He said the terrorism charges were “politically motivated” and accused the government of human rights abuses.

If found guilty, Thaksin could in theory face the death penalty, but the warrant appears aimed at boosting attempts to extradite Thaksin, who has found sanctuary in several countries.

The government has exerted pressure on countries he has visited and moved to freeze his finances.

Abhisit said the court ruling and the severity of the charge would help the government’s efforts to have Thaksin extradited.

The DSI, tasked with investigating violence surrounding the anti-government demonstrations by the Red Shirts, said on Monday it had submitted evidence “which show Thaksin’s coordinating role” in the unrest.

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2 Responses

  1. […] A lawyer for ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Wednesday filed an appeal against an arrest warrant issued Tuesday on charges of terrorism. Thaksin is accused of involvement in the the recent […]

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