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Thailand ex-PM Thaksin convicted on corruption charges

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Thailand on Monday convicted [Bangkok Post report] ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of corruption charges [JURIST report] related to a 2003 purchase of land by his wife Pojamarn Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] from the government-controlled Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website]. Thaksin was sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power for using his position to secure a reduced price for the land, and violating a Thai law prohibiting political leaders from engaging in business dealings with government-directed organizations. Pojamarn, also charged in the case [JURIST report], was cleared of charges because she was not a government official. The two were tried in absentia [JURIST report] after failing to return from an August trip to the UK [JURIST report] because of what they said was judicial bias [JURIST report] by Thai courts. Thailand's Office of the Attorney General on Monday said it would seek Thaksin's extradition [Bangkok Post report] in light of the conviction. Thaksin took refuge in the UK after being overthrown by the Thai military while travelling abroad in 2006, but he later returned [JURIST reports] to the country to dispute the charges. AP has more.

Thaksin's conviction is the latest in a long series of corruption actions brought against Thaksin and Pojamarn. In August, Thai prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to seize over $2 billion [JURIST report] from the Shinawatras' frozen accounts and holdings in relation to the charges. In July, the Thai Attorney General's Office filed corruption charges [JURIST report] against Thaksin for his role in a 2003 resolution reducing fees paid by mobile phone companies to state telecommunications agencies. Later that month, Pojmarn, as well as her step brother and secretary, were convicted of tax evasion [JURIST report] for transferring $16.3 million worth of stock she transferred to the two. Also that month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear additional charges against Thaksin and 47 other for alleged misconduct [JURIST reports] related to the country's lottery system.

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