Thailand’s new prime minister fails to win pardon for fugitive brother

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His sister, Ms. Yingluck, is basking in Washington’s public support, which was highlighted during Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to Bangkok last week.

“We believe it is in the national security and political interest of the United States to have this government succeed, and we will do what we can to support that going forward,” a senior State Department official told journalists in Bangkok.

Amnesty and impunity against prosecution are common for politicians, security forces and other power brokers in Thailand.

Last year, 91 people were killed in Bangkok when Thailand’s military clashed with Thaksin’s supporter, called Red Shirts, who demanded that he be allowed to come home as a free man.

While crushing the protests, the former military-backed government declared a “state of emergency” that gave officials and the armed forces immunity against prosecution for their actions.

After the bloodshed, Thaksin endorsed his politically inexperienced sister, enabling her to win a July election. His supporters expected his sister to arrange for his return.

In 2006, military opponents toppled Thaksin and his elected government. They then helped rewrite the constitution, granted themselves immunity against prosecution for the coup and arranged for Thaksin’s trial.

In 2008, he was convicted for a conflict of interest in a 2003 real estate deal involving his ex-wife and government-owned property in Bangkok while he was prime minister.

On the run, but based mostly in Dubai, Thaksin later acquired a passport from Montenegro, apparently to help him avoid arrest and extradition while he traveled abroad making political statements to support the Red Shirts and Ms. Yingluck’s new government.

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