Oct 19, 2012

Thailand - Thai deputy premier rules out Thaksin extradition

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Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra could not be brought back to face prosecution in Thailand because all the cases against him stemmed from the 2006 coup.

Chalerm was responding to Democrat MP Sathit Pitutecha, who reminded the House of Representatives that Thaksin was wanted in relation to many cases, including alleged irregularities in relation to money lent by Krung Thai Bank to Krisda Mahanakorn.

However, the deputy premier defended Thaksin by saying that such demands were inappropriate because all the cases against Thaksin, including the one related to the Krung Thai Bank, had been initiated by the Assets Examination Committee, which was created by the coup-makers.

Chalerm added that he refused to recognise the legitimacy of the coup-makers.

"Thaksin is being dragged into these issues through slander. Let me reiterate that this government has been strictly adhering to the law, but on this matter it does not have any power.

"Let me ask a question: in the case of the Ratchadaphisek land purchase, [Thaksin's] wife bought the land, but you convicted the husband?

"No other country would do this, only Thailand.

"So, I will not seek his extradition. When Thailand has better rules, and not just those that admire the court, then I will ask Thaksin to return," Chalerm said.

He also said that he did not need to explain when and where he met the former leader because it was a private matter and that the opposition Democrat Party was welcome to file a censure motion against him.

Sathit, meanwhile, accused the government of engaging in preferential treatment and being selective in terms of using the law, adding that the Office of the Attorney-General had the right to seek Thaksin's extradition.

Chalerm responded by saying that if Thaksin is a criminal, then the Department of Special Investigation would definitely try to arrest him.

Separately, Democrat Party's deputy leader, Korn Chatikavanij, cast doubts over the authenticity of Thaksin's signature on a document used to file libel suits against four Democrat MPs over the "men-in-black" issue.

Korn said it would be a serious violation of the law if the signature was found to have been faked by Thaksin's legal team.

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