Fri, Feb 27, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Thailand mulls extradition


Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday he would consider asking China to help bring former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra home, days before the fugitive ex-leader was to speak in Hong Kong.

Thaksin is scheduled to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong on Monday, and Abhisit said he was determined to see the former prime minister serve a two-year jail sentence for abuse of power.

“We are checking on legal details whether we can ask for his extradition. If it is possible then we have to take action,” Abhisit told reporters.

“We want all Thais to be under the same law,” he said.

A Thai foreign ministry official confirmed that Thailand had signed an extradition treaty with China in 1993. Such legal processes between nations, however, are usually lengthy and complicated.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Abhisit also urged Thaksin to tread carefully in his address in Hong Kong — a rare public appearance for the telecoms tycoon who was overthrown in a military coup in September 2006 and now lives in exile to escape jail.

“If he makes any bad allegations against Thailand, the government will clarify [his comments],” the premier said.

Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in October to two years in prison for abuse of power linked to a 2003 land deal. He had already fled into exile by that time as corruption cases against him progressed through the courts.

He vowed earlier this month, in a message reported by Thai media, to clear his name and said he was ready to lead the country again.

Twice-elected Thaksin, who made a fortune in telecommunications, remains enormously influential.

His allies won the first post-coup elections in December 2007, sparking massive street demonstrations by Thaksin’s foes.

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