Thailand's Supreme Court yesterday sentenced former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to two years in prison for corruption.There is a move to extradite Thaksin. Bangkok Post reports, "because Mr Thaksin is currently living in exile in London, the court issued a warrant for his arrest." According to the FT:
The verdict drew roars of 'We have won!' and 'Thaksin in jail!' from thousands of anti-government protesters at Government House in Bangkok.
The court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions ruled by a narrow 5-4 margin that Thaksin used his position as prime minister in 2003 to engineer a below-market price for his wife Khunying Pojaman when she purchased a plot of land in the capital from the state.
Legal experts said his conviction, even in absentia , might streamline the extradition efforts, as the government would not have to show the former prime minister had a case to answer, as is usual in most extradition requests based on criminal charges or accusations. However, Mr Thaksin would still be free to challenge extradition on other legal and human rights grounds.The FT article mentions that Thaksin is faces 10 more corruption charges. The Bangkok Post also reported that "The sentence would expire in 10 years, after which Thaksin could return to Thailand without fear of being jailed." Thaksin has claimed the charges against him are politically motivated; part of an effort to keep his supporters out of power.
Meanwhile, the capital remains deeply divided. Seth Mydans writes in the NY Times about how normally amicable Bangkok society has been split into two hostile camps.
More details about the case -- and some questions about how the law was applied -- here.
Photo: Thaksin may be divisive, despised by today's PAD protesters, but his is certainly not unpopular with everybody. I took this photo in February 2008 which shows Thaksin fans cheering Thaksin's return to Thailand (he had been deposed and exiled by the 2006 coup). That day seems as if it belonged to another era now -- looking back -- so much having happened in Thailand since then! See my original lived-blog post of Thaksin's return.