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Thailand court begins corruption trial of former PM Thaksin

[JURIST] Former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] went on trial for corruption Tuesday in the Thai Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions [Thai judiciary backgrounder]. In March, Thaksin pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges stemming from a 2003 land purchase his wife, Pojamarn, made from a government-directed institution despite a ban on officials making business deals with government agencies.  The court will determine whether Thaksin abused the authority of his office to influence the deal. The judgment in the trial, which is expected to last about two months, cannot be appealed, and Thaksin could be sentenced to up to 13 years in prison if found guilty. AFP has more. TNA has local coverage.

On Monday, members of the People's Alliance for Democracy protested [JURIST report] delays in various corruption trials Thaksin is facing, and the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) [official website] said that it may bring more charges against Thaksin without waiting for Office of the Attorney General [official website, in Thai] to file additional indictments. In June, the Committee recommend that two new charges be brought [AP report] against Thaksin, one for using his position to secure a $127 million loan to benefit a company owned by his family, and another for corruption related to the purchase of about $43 million worth of rubber trees. 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.

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