Ousted Thai premier seeks political asylum in BritainAugust 21st, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by IANS
Bangkok, Aug 21 (DPA) Former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Pojaman, have started legal procedures for seeking political asylum in Britain, media reports said Thursday.”At this moment, Thaksin’s legal team is proceeding to ask for political asylum for Thaksin and his family in Britain,” Watchara Seangprathum, the head of Thaksin’s legal team in Thailand, told The Nation newspaper.
The former first couple flew to London from Beijing Aug 10, jumping bail in Thailand, where they face abuse-of-power charges at the Supreme Court for the purchase of a plot of land at public auction in 2003 when Thaksin was still prime minister.
Their three children have joined them in London.
Pojaman was sentenced to three years in jail July 31 by Thailand’s Criminal Court after being found guilty of tax evasion.
Thai authorities have issued arrest warrants for the couple but have yet to launch extradition procedures.
Thaksin lived in self-exile in Britain for most on 2007 after being toppled from power in a bloodless military coup Sept 19, 2006.
The couple own properties in London, and Thaksin, a billionaire who made his fortune from government-granted telecommunications concessions, bought the Manchester City football club last year.
After fleeing Thailand, Thaksin claimed he was being persecuted by the courts and had been the target of assassination attempts.
Under British rules for granting political asylum, it would be necessary for Thaksin to prove he is fleeing political persecution rather than the judicial system in Thailand.
Thousands of Thai protesters Monday demonstrated outside the British embassy in Bangkok, demanding that Britain deny Thaksin and his wife asylum.
“If Thaksin’s request is met, it will set terrible precedents for other rich, powerful and non-democratic figures in Thailand as well as elsewhere to follow suit,” the protesters warned in a letter addressed to the British ambassador.