Monday, November 10, 2008

Thaksin's extradition possible if govt is serious to do so

Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra could be brought back to face justice in Thailand if the government is serious about doing so, said legal experts.

Sak Kosaengruang, the former spokesman for the Asset Examination Committee, said authorities could ask Thai envoys posted overseas to help find Thaksin or could offer a bounty for the convicted expremier.

Over the weekend, it was confirmed that the UK had already revoked visas for Thaksin and his wife Khunying Pojaman to reenter the UK where the couple earlier lived in exile.

The whereabouts of Thaksin is not known, but Tej Bunnag, a former foreign minister, said yesterday that he believed Thaksin was currently in China.

It was also speculated that Thaksin would fly to the Philippines to meet Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, his brotherinlaw, today or tomorrow.

Somchai yesterday denied that his official twoday visit to the Philippines would have anything to do with the expremier.

At present, Thailand has extradition treaties with 14 countries - the US, UK, Canada, China, Belgium, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Fiji, and Australia.

Somchai said his trip to the Philippines was planned sometime ago as he need to introduce himself to his Asean counterpart.

The premier, however, refused comments if his government would revoke the red "diplomatic" passport granted to Thaksin.

Kasit Pirom of the opposition Democrat party said the "diplomatic" passport should have been cancelled because Thaksin was earlier convicted to a 2 year jailterm.

If Thaksin's ordinary passport is also terminated, the expremier would be forced to return to Thailand, said the former envoy.

Thaworn Senniem, also of the Democrat Party, said Thaksin could be brough back to Thailand if public prosecutors are serious about doing so.

A former prosecutor, Thaworn said if authorities could ascertain the whereabouts of Thaksin, then they could start the extradition process with any country regardless of whether there are any bilateral treaties.

"If there is no bilateral treaty, we could deal with the counterpart nation on a reciprocal basis," he said.

However, Sirisak Tiyapan, directorgeneral of the Foreign Affairs Department, said the extradition process would start when Thaksin's residence is confirmed.

China is believed to be the next country Thaksin may seek to live in exile as it is not possible to continue his exile in the UK.

Sirisak said it would be difficult to seek extradition if Thaksin stayed in a place not having a treaty with Thailand.

The antigovernment People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader Chamlong Srimuang said he was surprised by the UK government's cancellation of visas for Thaksin and Pojaman.

The PAD will continue to oppose constitutional amendment bids designed to help Thaksin, he added.

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