Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra denied in a television interview that he supported any violence blamed on anti-government protesters in Bangkok and called terrorism charges against him politically motivated.
Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and later fled abroad ahead of a corruption conviction, told Australian Broadcasting Corp by telephone yesterday that he had never supported violent protest.
The ABC did not say from where Mr. Thaksin was speaking, but said he was living in exile and hiding from Thai authorities.
The Thai Criminal Court ordered an arrest warrant on Tuesday on terrorism charges that accuse Mr. Thaksin of a role in fomenting two months of anti-government unrest by his Red Shirt supporters in Bangkok that left 88 people dead. The charges carry a possible death penalty.
Mr. Thaksin called the charges groundless and politically motivated and said he did not believe that Interpol, the Paris-based international police intelligence-sharing association, would act on the warrant.
“Interpol have their own criteria to judge, that is, to not be politically motivated,” Mr. Thaksin said. “This is clearly politically motivated and there is no ground.”
An Interpol official was not immediately available for comment today.
Mr. Thaksin said he did not know if the Red Shirt rebellion was over. But he said he had never supported violence.
“In my mind, I always advocate ... peaceful protest,” he said. “Thailand needs reconciliation.”
He described the burning of buildings blamed on his supporters as “set up.”
“The big fire ... must be the work of (a) professional,” he said.
He said it was “definitely” not the work of a Red Shirt and “it must be well planned ahead.”
“As an ex-police (officer), I can assure you that this is a well planned and professionally done” act of arson, he said.
Mr. Thaksin has been accused by the government of being a key force behind Red Shirt protesters who seized areas of downtown Bangkok before being overcome by army troops last week.
Thailand issued the charges a day after testimony by the Department of Special Investigations into Thaksin’s alleged involvement in the protests. The department alleged that Mr. Thaksin committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorist acts, but the court gave no further details.