PAD to rally outside British embassy

Sunday, August 17, 2008 by Editor

Inner city motorists face traffic chaos tomorrow when the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) plans to march to the British embassy.

The protesters will demand the British government reject any application for asylum by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The rally will start in front of the CentralWorld shopping centre in Pathumwan and the protesters will march to the embassy on the corner of Withayu and Ploenchit roads.

Police deputy spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Surapol Thuanthong said yesterday about 450 police would patrol the rally.

He suggested motorists avoid the vicinity in the morning as the demonstration will disrupt traffic.

PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul said Mr Thaksin should not be treated as an asylum seeker, but a fugitive fleeing the country ahead of criminal trials. The accusations against him were true, he insisted.

Mr Thaksin did not return after attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing on Aug 10, as he had promised the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. Arrest warrants were then issued for Mr Thaksin and his wife Khunying Potjaman.

The two jumped bail in the Ratchadaphisek land trial, in which the former prime minister is accused of abusing his authority by facilitating his wife's purchase of 33 rai of land in Ratchadaphisek from the Bank of Thailand's Financial Institutions Development Fund five years ago.

Khunying Potjaman was found guilty of tax evasion on July 31 in another case by the Criminal Court, who sentenced her to three years in jail.

Mr Thaksin claimed his decision to flee to London from Thailand was due to concern that he would not receive fair trials due to interference in the Thai judicial system.

The PAD has urged the Office of the Attorney-General and the Foreign Ministry to take serious steps in seeking Mr Thaksin's return.

Mr Sondhi has demanded that the Foreign Ministry terminate both of Mr Thaksin's passports.

No move to cancel his diplomat passport has been made so far.

The government, however, cannot terminate the regular passport.

Tomorrow's planned PAD march has upset the People Power party (PPP).

PPP spokesman Kudep Saikrajang urged the anti-government group to respect the rights of Mr Thaksin and blamed Mr Sondhi for discrediting the former prime minister by posting copies of the arrest warrants against the couple on the internet.

Mr Kudep also criticised the national police office for posting copies of the arrest warrants against Mr Thaksin and Khunying Potjaman at police stations nationwide.

He said he wondered what motivated the police action against the former government leader.