Thailand: Arrest warrant issued for former-PM Thaksin Shinawatra ahead of elections
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Thailand: Arrest warrant issued for former-PM Thaksin Shinawatra ahead of elections

THAILAND’S Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a new arrest warrant for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after resuming his trial in absentia on alleged manipulation of policy for personal gain 15 years ago.

The revival of the case was made possible under a new law that took effect last year, allowing the trial of politicians after they have fled the country.

According to the Bangkok Post, the arrest warrant was issued after Thaksin failed to show up at court, or send a lawyer representative.

SEE ALSO: Thailand’s election delays widely criticised

The former PM has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 after he was put on trial for allegedly wrongfully changing regulations on telecom concession fees in favour of companies he owned, causing a loss to the state of 68 billion Thai baht (US$2.2 billion), during his time in office.

The charge is one of many cases shelved after Thaksin fled that could be revived under the new provision.

The court’s decision comes just days after Thaksin was seen holding meetings with his former political party, Pheu Thai, in the run-up to the country’s first post-coup elections.


Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court in Bangkok, Thailand, on Aug 1, 2017. Source: Reuters/Aukkarapon Niyomyat

Despite undergoing numerous delays under current Prime Minster Prayuth Chan-ocha, the election is slated to take place in February 2019. It is the first of its kind since the military seized power in a 2014 coup, unseating civilian leader, and Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck is also in exile after being sentenced to five years’ jail in September after being found guilty of negligence for the mismanagement of a billion dollar rice subsidy scheme. She was seen travelling along with her brother.

SEE ALSO: What were Yingluck Shinawatra and brother Thaksin doing in China?

According to South China Morning Post, Thaksin raised eyebrows last week as he held court in Hong Kong and Singapore with elders from the deposed Pheu Thai party who had flown in to pay their respects to the man they still refer to as “the big boss.”

The party has downplayed the meetings, but the timing has led political observers to speculate they are a sign that Thaksin will remotely lead campaigning of the still popular Pheu Thai in the lead up to elections.

Military leader Prayuth has been showing signs that he wants to retain power after the polls. Changes to the Constitution and laws, written by the regime, have paved a way for him to stay in power if he receives the support of 250 winning candidates.

Tuesday’s hearing adjourned with the court setting July 10 for the examination of evidence and witness lists.

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