Bangkok: Thailand’s criminal court today issued an arrest warrant for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after he failed to appear for the first hearing in a defamation case filed by the Royal Thai Army.
Thaksin, 66, who has been on a self-imposed exile in Dubai since he was overthrown in a military coup in 2006, is accused of defaming the army during interviews in South Korea in May. The interviews were posted on YouTube and other online media. The case was filed by Major General Sarayuth Klinmahom, director of the Office of the Judge-Advocate of the Royal Thai Army.
In his interviews, Thaksin falsely accused the army, portraying it as a “dreadful institution” and a danger to the nation, Bangkok Post reported citing the lawsuit. The court accepted the lawsuit for further proceedings and set October 12 for him to show up for witness examination.
His lawyer testified to the court this morning that his client could not be present since he is in political exile, residing in a foreign country.
The court found that Thaksin had intention to evade the lawsuit and issued a warrant for his arrest. The statute of limitations in the case is 10 years, the daily reported.
In 2008, Thaksin was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison by the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Positions for abuse of power in the sale of state land to his then-wife when he was prime minister. A charge his supporters claim was politically motivated.
Thaksin frequently travels to several countries from Dubai where he has business interests.
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