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Thai election fraud trial of former ruling party begins

[JURIST] Thailand's former ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) [party website] party went on trial Tuesday on charges of committing election fraud [JURIST report] during last year's parliamentary elections by allegedly misusing the independent election commission and illegally paying smaller parties to run candidates against it to satisfy minimum vote requirements. On the eve of the trial, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile] made his first public statements since the military coup [JURIST report] ousted the TRT party and Thaksin from power in September, telling the Wall Street Journal that he no longer wants to participate in politics, but would like to "go back to my country, and spend time with my family and help Thai society through charitable activities." TRT official Phongthep Thepkanjana denied any connection between the timing of Thaksin's statements and the trial.

In October, Thai Army Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin [BBC profile], who led the coup against Thaksin's government, admitted that investigators were struggling to find evidence of corruption during Thaksin's tenure. Despite this, Sonthi stated that Thaksin would not yet be allowed to return. AFP has more.

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