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Thailand judge issues arrest warrant after ex-PM fails to appear in court

[JURIST] Thai Supreme Court Judge Tonglor Choam-ngam issued arrest warrants Tuesday for former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his wife Pojamarn, saying that the court had reason to believe that couple are "evading prosecution" by remaining in exile. Thaksin and Pojamarn are accused of abuse of power for personal gain [JURIST report], conflict of interest violations, and dereliction of duty for personal gain in charges stemming from a 2003 land purchase by Pojamarn from the government-directed Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website]. Government authorities have not decided whether to seek Thaksin and Pojarmarn's formal extradition from the United Kingdom.

Thaksin, who has been living in exile since his ouster in a September 2006 military coup [JURIST report], indicated that he will consult his legal advisers before making a decision on his course of action. The high court had ordered Thaksin to appear [JURIST report] for the Tuesday hearings, but Thaksin refused citing concerns for his personal safety and doubts on whether he will receive a fair trial [JURIST report]. If convicted, Thaksin and Pojamarn face a maximum punishment of 13 years in prison. AP has more.

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