Thaksin extradition process begins

Thai prosecutors today began the process of extradition from Britain of the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Potjaman Shinawatra at the criminal court in Bangkok in July.
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Thai prosecutors today began gathering evidence to submit to Britain asking for the extradition of the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, after he was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail. The Supreme Court yesterday found Thaksin guilty of violating corruption laws when he helped his wife buy a cut-price lot of government land. "The extradition process began today," said Sirisak Tiyapan, international affairs director at the lawyer general's office.

"The special litigation department will copy the verdict and translate it into English, before we prepare case details. "All documents must be translated into English before we can prepare the petition and that will take considerable time ... in our petition, we have to prove Thaksin committed a crime that is common between the two countries."

A British Home Office spokesman said earlier this month that Mr Thaksin and his wife Ms Pojaman had applied for political asylum, although people close to Thaksin were quoted in local media today as saying that report was not true. Thaksin and Ms Pojaman fled to Britain in August this year saying they would not get a fair trial on corruption charges back home. Thaksin was overthrown in a military coup in September 2006, and the junta set up a corruption investigation unit to look into alleged abuses of power. So far, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear five cases against Thaksin.

The land deal verdict yesterday was the first judgement against Thaksin since the putsch. An attempt to extradite Thaksin during his first period in exile after the coup got bogged down in complexities, as the charges he faced in Thailand were not covered by the extradition treaty with Britain. *AFP