Fugitive treaty with Thailand is near

The UAE and Thai officials are expected to sign an extradition treaty later this week after talks begin in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // UAE and Thai officials are expected to sign an extradition treaty on Wednesday, a deal that Thailand hopes will lead to the UAE handing over the former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is reported to be living in Dubai. Talks to finalise the agreement began yesterday in Abu Dhabi, according to WAM, the state news agency. Officials from the Sharjah Federal Appeal Court, Thailand's foreign ministry and other representatives from both countries took part in the talks.

Thai officials said last April they were studying a draft extradition treaty with the UAE to bring back Mr Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and later sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for abuse of power. International law does not require countries to surrender criminals to other nations, but most have agreements to ensure fugitives do not escape justice. The UAE has signed similar agreements with at least 34 countries, and hopes it will facilitate the hand over of Emirati citizens who have been detained in Thailand.

Dubai is seeking the extradition of Michael Bryan Smith, a 43-year-old Briton who is accused of embezzlement and is being held by Thai authorities. Dubai authorities want Mr Smith to face charges of forgery, betrayal of trust and illegal possession of public funds. He is alleged to have stolen US$600,000 (Dh2.2 million) from the Dubai-based property company Limitless, where he worked, according to court papers. Limitless is a business unit of Dubai World owned by the Dubai Government.

It is not clear whether Mr Thaksin is still in Dubai. He is reported to have a number of passports, and business interests in several countries. He was stripped of his Thai passport. mhabboush@thenational.ae