Published on October 13, 2007
Deposed and exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can be tried in civil cases even if criminal hearings have to be suspended, graft-busters believe.
"But in civil suits, the court can proceed in absentia," a source with the Assets Examination Committee said yesterday.
The AEC has three major avenues to press charges against Thaksin in the many cases against him.
First he will be charged for holding shares and concessions while serving in office.
The AEC believes he controlled major stakes in Shin Corp, Shin Satellite and Advanced Info Service, which operate on government concessions. Second, Thaksin will also be taken to task for abusing his authority to provide favours to companies owned by his family.
Finally he will be held accountable for being unusually rich. The AEC plans to wrap up the cases next month and lodge both criminal and civil suits against him. AEC spokesman Sak Korsaengruang said that although the statute of limitations on criminal charges against Thaksin expires in 20 years, the AEC has frozen Bt65 billion of the Shinawatra family's wealth gained from selling Shin Corp stock.
"Even though the owners of the money are not present, their money is," Sak said.
AEC members were answering questions forwarded by 20 supporters from Kamphaeng Phet who offered them encouragement.
AEC secretary Kaewsan Atibodhi said four public prosecutors had left for the United Kingdom to find legal venues to extradite Thaksin and they were confident it was possible to bring him back if their counterparts there cooperate.
He said two cases against Thaksin and his wife Pojaman had reached the court. They involve the purchase of land in the Ratchadaphisek area and the evasion of taxes in the transfer of shares in Shinawatra Computer and Telecommunications.
Auditor-General Jaruvan Maintaka, an AEC member, said Thaksin's attorneys postponed giving testimony in their request for the AEC to unfreeze Thaksin's assets.
The lawyers requested the AEC to subpoena records from the National Counter Corruption Commission on Thaksin's assets when he became foreign minister in 1994.
Lawyer Noppadon Pattama appeared before the AEC as a witness in the Shin Corp tax-evasion case. The AEC asked him to present a document on the takeover of the Manchester City Football Club by Thaksin. He suggested that the AEC seek the document from the United Kingdom's stock exchange because the company owning the soccer club is listed there.