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Thailand high court to hear corruption charges against ex-PM

[JURIST] The Thai Supreme Court agreed to hear corruption charges [JURIST report] against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Tuesday, scheduling the first hearing for August 14 and ordering the exiled Thaksin and his wife Pojamarn to appear before the court. Thaksin is charged with abuse of power for personal gain, conflict of interest violations, and also dereliction of duty for personal gain stemming from a 2003 land purchase by Pojamarn from the government-directed Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website]. Pojamarn allegedly purchased the property at nearly one-third of its earlier value, which prosecutors say is the result of Thaksin's illegal influence. Thaksin lawyer and spokesperson Noppadol Pattama indicated that Thaksin will not return to Thailand to face the charges, citing concerns for his personal safety and doubts on whether Thaksin will receive a fair trial [JURIST report]. If convicted, Thaksin and Pojamarn face a maximum sentence of up to 13 years in prison.

In June, Thai Attorney General Phatchara Yutithamdamrong recommended the seizure of the land [JURIST report] involved in the current case. The Assets Examination Committee (AEC) has also ordered the seizure of additional Thaksin family assets, valued at $245.7 million, saying that funds had been shifted from accounts frozen [JURIST report] shortly before the order to freeze was issued. The AEC recommended that charges be brought [JURIST report] against Pojamarn and other members of Thaksin's family in February and other investigations are ongoing. Investigators have been having difficulty linking Thaksin to corruption [JURIST report], which was the stated reason for last year's bloodless coup [JURIST report] which removed Thaksin from power. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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