Thai court to rule on land case against Thaksin couple next month

Friday, August 22, 2008 by Editor

BANGKOK, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions will hand down on Sept.17 a final verdict on a land purchase scandal against ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman, now fugitives in Britain, after concluding the hearings on Friday.

Ex-prime minister Thaksin, who was ousted in a bloodless coup on Sept. 19, 2006, and his wife jumped bail and flew to Britain from Beijing after attending the Aug. 8 opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

They did not return to Thailand to appear at a court hearing on Aug. 11, and the court later on the day issued arrest warrants for them.

Thaksin was charged with abuse of power by helping his wife purchase a plot of land in downtown Bangkok at a lower-than-market price of 772 million baht (26 million U.S. dollars) in a government auction in 2003, when he was still in office.

After toppled in the 2006 coup, Thaksin, his family and close aides were brought to face various accusations and charges of corruption and abuse of power. Pojaman was convicted on July 31 on a separate case of tax evasion and released on bail.

Both Thaksin and his wife have denied any wrongdoing in the land deal.

The Supreme Court said it has asked the Attorney General as the plaintiff and the two defendants to attend or submit written documents to the Court within Sept. 10 for the case closure, and the final verdict will be handed down on Sept. 17, according to the Thai News Agency.

After fleeing to Britain, Thaksin issued a statement saying he and his family faced "injustice" under the politically-interfered judicial system in the country. He has also said he would not return to defend himself in court, but he wanted his lawyers to continue carrying out their duties.