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Thailand ex-PM pleads not guilty to corruption charges

[JURIST] Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges [JURIST report] of abuse of power for personal gain, conflict of interest violations, and dereliction of duty for personal gain in corruption proceedings before the Supreme Court of Thailand. The charges stem from a 2003 land purchase by his wife Pojamarn from the government-directed Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website], in violation of a law prohibiting government officials and their spouses from having business dealings with state-run agencies. Thaksin's next hearing will be held on April 29, but he will be required to report back to the court on April 11, following court-approved leave to travel outside the country. AP has more. The Bangkok Post has local coverage.

On Monday, Thai prosecutors filed separate corruption charges [JURIST report] against Thaksin, accusing him and other officials of illegally approving and operating funds from the state lottery. The government is seeking $500 million in compensation and has frozen more than $2 billion [JURIST report] of Thaksin and his family's assets. In February, Thaksin returned to Thailand from self-imposed exile to face corruption charges laid against him after he was ousted in a military coup [JURIST reports] in September 2006. Thai authorities immediately arrested Thaksin upon his return and later released him on bail.

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