Thai court approves arrest warrant for former PM

A supporter, not seen, tries to touch a hand of leader of anti-government protesters, Jatuporn Prompan, right, as he arrives at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) office for an interrogation on terrorist charge on Tuesday in Bangkok. Photo: AP.  

The Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday approved an arrest warrant for fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges after two months of deadly unrest in the Thai capital. The warrant was requested by the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand’s federal police agency.

“Based on our evidence, the court believes that Mr. Thaksin’s conduct provided support to the terrorist acts and the violence,” said the department’s deputy chief, Police Colonel Narat Savetnant. The court session was closed to the press.

The department on Monday presented evidence to the court to substantiate its charge that Mr. Thaksin, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006 before being ousted in a coup, was linked to terrorist acts committed during those anti—government protests that left 85 people dead, including 11 government security personnel. Mr. Thaksin, who already faces a two—year jail term in Thailand on an abuse—of—power conviction, has been living in self—imposed exile since 2008, residing primarily in Dubai.

The court’s decision was likely to put pressure on foreign governments to extradite Mr. Thaksin to Thailand to face numerous arrest warrants and pending trials.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has expressed frustration that foreign governments continue to allow Mr. Thaksin to visit their countries. Mr. Thaksin is known to have several passports, including ones from Nicaragua and Montenegro, among others.

“I don’t understand why many leaders still provide shelter and passports to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra despite the fact that he and his movement are a problem for Thailand’s society, democracy and solidarity,” Mr. Kasit said in an interview with the Bangkok Post.

Mr. Thaksin, a former billionaire telecommunications tycoon, was a key ringleader and financier of the protests from March 12 to May 19.

Demonstrators occupied a part of central Bangkok until troops dispersed the rally last week.

The protest was unusually violent by Thai standards with military weapons used on both sides.

In a street battle between troops and protestors on April 10, 25 people were killed, including at least five soldiers, who died from grenade and bullet wounds. More than 200 troops were injured.

The government blamed “terrorists” for the attacks on the troops.

Over the past two months, at least 85 people — 11 security personnel, two foreign journalists and 72 civilians — have died in protest—related violence.

The government estimated that the demonstration, which shut down the centre of the capital for more than a month and ended with a rampage of arson and looting, caused economic damage of 150 billion to 200 billion baht (4.7 billion to 6.3 billion dollars.) Although a semblance of normalcy has returned to the metropolis, the cabinet decided on Tuesday to extend a curfew of midnight to 4 am until Saturday.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 12:55:06 AM |

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