Thailand court to try ex-PM Thaksin and wife <em>in absentia</em> News
Thailand court to try ex-PM Thaksin and wife in absentia

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Thailand ruled on Friday that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his wife Pojamarn Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will be tried in absentia on corruption charges [AP report]. The couple are in the UK, where last week they announced their refusal to return to Thailand due to alleged judicial bias [JURIST reports]. The Supreme Court issued warrants for their arrest [Bangkok Post report] when they failed to make a court appearance. The Thai government is reportedly seeking their extradition [Bloomberg report] from the UK.

Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website, in Thai] rejected [JURIST report] Thaksin's challenge that the commission bringing charges against him is governed by a statute which violates the right to individual liberty. Last month, 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. In April, Pojamarn pleaded not guilty to charges [JURIST reports] stemming from a 2003 agreement with the government-directed Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website] to purchase land said to be worth three times more than the $26 million she paid for it. Lawyers for Thaksin have been jailed [JURIST report] for attempting to bribe court officials in one of Thaksin's cases, and current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile] is facing possible impeachment proceedings [JURIST report] due in part to his party's close association with Thaksin.