- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

London, saying Monday that there were threats against his life and that he could not expect justice in Thai courts on the corruption charges he faces.

Thailand’s Supreme Court issued arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin and his wife after they failed to appear at a hearing Monday, and Thai prosecutors said they were discussing the possibility of asking for Mr. Thaksin’s extradition.

The couple left Manchester City football club.

Mr. Thaksin lived in exile in London after the 2006 military coup and returned to Thailand earlier this year to face the corruption charges against him after his political allies won elections and formed a new government.

“I thought I would be able to prove my innocence and receive justice, which is why I returned to Thailand on February 28. But the situation has deteriorated,” Mr. Thaksin said in a three-page handwritten statement that was read on state-run television and faxed to various media outlets.

Mr. Thaksin faces a slew of court cases and investigations into purported corruption and abuse of power during his five years in office. In his statement, he insisted he was innocent of all accusations against him.

He also said there had been threats. “I have also constantly received news that my life is not safe. Wherever I travel, I have to use bulletproof cars. This is the result I got from having volunteered to serve the country, the king and the people,” he said.

Mr. Thaksin’s comments drew criticism from the supreme commander of the military, which plays an active role in politics.

“Such remarks by the former leader could damage the country’s image in its suggestion that we have an unjust judicial system,” said Boonsang Niempradit. “Thailand remains a good country with a great amount of justice.”

In addition to issuing arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin and his wife Pojaman, the Supreme Court ordered them to forfeit bail totaling $389,000.

Mr. Thaksin’s supporters say the courts are carrying out a vendetta against him on behalf of his opponents, while his critics say they are just exercising their independent role.

On July 31, the criminal court convicted his wife of evading millions of dollars in taxes and sentenced her to three years in prison. She was released on bail.

Mr. Thaksin was highly popular with the country’s rural masses and urban poor for his populist policies, and was elected with landslide victories. But his autocratic leanings and purported corruption drew resentment from the Bangkok elite, the military and people associated with the monarchy. Mass street protests led to his ouster in the 2006 military coup.

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