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Top judge sees no evidence of political interference in judiciary

A senior judge, the Army chief and a former prime minister yesterday defended the justice system against ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra's allegation of political interference in the judiciary.

Supreme Court vice president ML Krairiksh Kasemsant said he had found no interference in the legal cases against Thaksin and that he was unaware of any attempt to influence the cases. "The judicial institution is performing its duty to the best of its ability. The judges will do their jobs as best they can," he said.

General Anupong Paochinda, the Army commander-in-chief, said the judiciary was one of the three pillars of government that everyone must respect "so that society can continue functioning".

He said the legal cases against Thaksin should be allowed to continue along the usual process.

The Army chief said things began to improve even before Thaksin's announcement that his family would stay overseas. "The political situation started to calm down, and it should continue improving from now on," he said.

Former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said the justice system's duty was to keep balances in society, a responsibility bestowed by His Majesty the King.

"I believe officials in the justice system are working to the best of their ability.

"They are trying to keep the balances. Simply put, they are the chair umpires, so we should offer them moral support," he said.

Chavalit said he was unaware what information Thaksin had that led him to allege that there was interference in the justice system.

Chavalit said he viewed Thaksin's decision to stay overseas as an attempt to keep a distance from the ongoing political conflict at home.

On Monday, Thaksin cited what he called judicial interference and double standards in the justice system as an excuse for him and his wife Pojaman to jump their bail in a corruption case involving the Ratchadaphisek land scandal. The couple failed to show up before the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, which later ordered their bail money of Bt13 million to be seized.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who is Thaksin's brother-in-law, said yesterday that Thaksin's new self-imposed exile had nothing to do with the ruling People Power Party.

"Thaksin has nothing to do with the party. He is not a party executive and not even a party member," Somchai said. "I also insist that his attempt to seek political asylum is not connected to the government. That is purely a personal matter."

Somchai said that even though he was one of their relatives, he had not yet talked to Thaksin and Pojaman since they went overseas.

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