THE SUPREME Court’s judges will decide whether there will be trials in absentia on the two corruption cases against fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinwatra, according to the court’s spokesman.
The trials in absentia have been sought by the Office of Attorney-General.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing Thaksin argued that the new law on trials in absentia, which took effect recently, could not be applied to these cases retroactively.
Suriyan Hongwilai, the court’s spokesman, said some of the judges who originally handled the cases against Thaksin may have retired, so it will take some time for the Supreme Court to convene senior judges to fill those vacant slots.
Public prosecutors have asked the high court to consider trials in absentia under the new criminal law against corruption committed by political office holders.
Thaksin was accused of abusing his power while in office for the conversion of a mobile phone concession fee into an excise tax to benefit his family’s company, and for the state-owned Krung Thai Bank’s approval of a fraudulent multi-billion-baht loan to the Krisada Mahanakorn Group.
Since Thaksin fled the country several years ago, the high court had suspended these and other cases involving the ex-premier because the law previously did not allow trials without the presence of the accused. Suriyan said the court would still seek the presence of Thaksin for these cases while also considering trials in absentia as requested by prosecutors.
However, Chusak Sirinil, chief of the Pheu Thai party, said it is against general principles to retroactively apply amendments to the criminal law when this will negatively affect a defendant. He argued that the high court had already suspended the cases, so the amendments should not be applicable in these cases.
Pichit Chuenban, a former lawyer for Thaksin, shared the same opinion, saying that old cases against the ex-premier are not applicable under the amendments to the criminal law for trials in absentia.