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December 2, 2008

Thai PM barred from politics, three parties dissolved

Thai PM barred from politics, three parties dissolved

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
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Today’s ruling from Thailand’s Constitutional Court sees the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, removed from office, barred from politics, and the People’s Power Party (PPP) dissolved. The allegations leading to this were of vote buying in the last election.

The decision has already eased tension in the country, with the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announcing they will end their siege of Bangkok’s two main international airports. Red-shirted pro-government protesters were dismayed at the court’s decision. Initially they blockaded the Constitutional Court buildings to try and prevent the case being heard; following its relocation they moved on to the Administrative Court to protest a decision they claim is anti-democratic.

In addition to the PPP being disbanded and outlawed, two other parties in the ruling coalition were found guilty. The Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya parties were also outlawed and, between the three parties, 109 members barred from all involvement in the electoral process – including the right to vote. Among those disenfranchised were three ex-Prime Ministers. Those remaining from the executive of the outlawed parties have stated their intention to reform under a new name and attempt to continue in government.

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Prior to the PAD announcing that their airport blockades would end, another grenade attack at one of the airports killed one and injured around 20 other protesters. Yesterday saw the PAD announce plans to abandon the Government House compound they have occupied since August. Following numerous grenade attacks on their encampment there, they elected to move to the airport protest sites and leave what has become a regular target; it is expected to take until Thursday to remove all belongings accumulated at the key site since the August invasion.

Somchai, brother-in-law to the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, has been a target of the PAD since he assumed the office following his predecessor being ousted over a conflict of interest issue. The PPP and Somchai are seen as a proxy for Thaksin and his banned Thai Rak Thai party, which the military overthrew in a bloodless coup in 2006.

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November 30, 2008

Tourists struggle to escape as Bangkok airport blockades enter sixth day

Tourists struggle to escape as Bangkok airport blockades enter sixth day

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

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Suvarnabhummi Airport (also referred to as Bangkok International Airport)
Image: Heinz Albers.

With dire warnings that the number of stranded tourists in Thailand could rise as high as 300,000, thousands are attempting to leave the country via U-tapao airport in Rayong, around 150 km southeast of the capital Bangkok. The blockade of the two main international airports by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters is now in its sixth day. Tensions continue to rise with a pro-government rally planned for today and police surrounding the main international airport, Suvarnabhumi.

With the old international airport, Don Mueang, still in PAD hands, the red-shirted pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has supporters massing at the Bangkok city hall. A “Truth Today” talk show is planned for later on, although it is unclear if the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra will feature. Organisers have indicated there are no plans to confront the PAD, but non-specific threats to act where the government has not done so have been made in the past.

Thailand’s Prime Minister remains in Chiang Mai in the north of the country, having declared a state of emergency around the two besieged airports on Friday. The announcement prompted the PAD to move protesters inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards. Moves by police yesterday to evict the protesters failed, and their vehicles were seized as they retreated. The police presence around the airport has been stepped up as today has gone on and Navy and Air Force personnel may be made available to assist in clearing the protesters.

Adding to calls from the army for the beleaguered People’s Power Party (PPP) government to resign, the Thai Chamber of Commerce labelled the administration as incompetent and called for them to step down; some Chamber of Commerce members made the suggestion that businesses should cease paying taxes if the request is ignored.

The deepening three-month old political crisis continues to have significant economic impact on Thailand. Agriculture is hard hit because the export of fresh produce via air is usually routed through the Suvarnabhumi airport. No new tourists are entering the country; many nations have advised their citizens not to travel to Bangkok, and the repercussions in the tourist industry are expected to last well into 2009. A report in The Bangkok Post suggests that as many as one million in the industry could lose their jobs. In a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat highlighted the plight of the hotel, tour, and restaurant trades – expected to be hardest hit in the wake of the crisis.

Police appear reluctant to make forceful moves to remove the protesters from the two airports, likely a consequence of their last clash with the anti-government PAD in October that saw two protesters killed and around 500 injured. Suggestions have been made that action is being deferred pending a decision by the country’s constitutional court on the future of Prime Minister Somchai’s PPP. The party may be outlawed this coming week in light of allegations of vote buying in the last general election. The court may face pressure from the pro-government UDD, their city hall rally is only minutes away from the court buildings. This means that they could surround the premises to protest the court moving to closing statements and a verdict on the fate of the parties in the ruling coalition.

The PAD demonstrators encamped at Government House saw another grenade attack on Saturday night. Fifty are reported injured in the attack, and separate explosions are reported at Sondhi Limthongkul’s ASTV satellite TV station and the occupied Don Mueang airport.



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Tourists struggle to escape as airport blockage enters sixth day

Sunday, November 30, 2008

With dire warnings that the number of stranded tourists in Thailand could rise as high as 300,000, thousands are attempting to leave the country via U-tapao airport in Rayong, around 150km south-east of the capital Bangkok. The blockade of the two main international airports by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters is now in its sixth day. Tensions continue to rise with a pro-government rally planned for today and police surrounding the main international airport, Suvarnabhumi.

With the old international airport, Don Mueang, still in PAD hands, the red-shirted pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has supporters massing at the offices of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. A “Truth Today” talk show is planned for later on although, unlike previous events, the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra is not expected to feature. Organisers have indicated there are no plans to confront the PAD, but non-specific threats to act where the government has not done so have been made in the past.

Thailand’s Prime Minister remains in Chiang Mai in the north of the country having declared a state of emergency around the two sieged airports on Friday. The move prompted the PAD to move protesters inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards. Yesterday moves by police to evict the protesters failed, and their vehicles were seized as they retreated.

Adding to calls from the army for the beleaguered People’s Power Party (PPP) government to stand down, the Thai Chamber of Commerce labelled the administration as incompetent; some Chamber of Commerce members made the suggestion that businesses should cease paying taxes if the request is ignored.


Related news

Sources

  • Phusadee Arunmas, Manop Thip-osod and Sirikul Bunnag “PAD force police retreat”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • “Red-shirted people rally at Bangkok city hall”. The Nation (Thailand), November 30, 2008
  • “Rush to get out”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • Chatrudee Theparat and Chadamas Chinmaneevong “No way out”. The Bangkok Post, November 29, 2008

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November 28, 2008

Thai PM declares state of emergency over airport blockades

Thai PM declares state of emergency over airport blockades

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Friday, November 28, 2008

File photo of People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters.
Image: Mark Micallef.

With Thailand’s People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) still blockading Bangkok’s two international airports, the People’s Power Party (PPP) Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, has declared a state of emergency around Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi international airports. Police have been ordered to end the blockade and demonstrations, prompting the PAD to move demonstrators inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards to fend off any action by authorities.

Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
…More articles here
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The staunchly royalist and anti-government protesters began upping the stakes in their campaign to bring down the populist PPP government last Sunday. A rallying call for protesters to mass at the occupied Government House compound on Sunday saw thousands ready for their Monday morning march on parliament. Since forcing the cancellation of sessions of both houses of parliament, the protesters have expanded their targets to include temporary government offices at Don Mueang, and then to close both of Bangkok’s international airports.

Disruption by the PAD has now been in progress for over three months. The group which initially demonstrated in 2006 leading to a bloodless military coup to overthrow the now-fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra claims the current government is corrupt and merely a proxy for Thaksin, who remains in self-imposed exile. The current escalation of action has been dubbed their ‘final battle’ and although army commanders have dismissed reports that a second coup may be imminent, rumours that such may happen abound.

The PAD action is now starting to have a notable impact on Thailand’s economy. Most apparent is the impact on the tourism industry with several countries advising their nationals not to fly into the country; Tuesday’s invasion and closure of the new international airport saw 3,000 – 4,000 travelers stranded in terminal buildings. Normally handling around 75 flights an hour, Suvarnabhumi airport’s closure is estimated to be costing the agriculture sector of the country’s economy 3 billion baht (US$85 million) per day. As a major segment of the economy, the export by air of fresh fruit and vegetables is among Thailand’s better known products.

Among the would-be travelers, the nearly 5,000 Thai Muslims who planned to make the annual Hajj pilgrimage are most distressed. Pridi Chueaphudee, an advisor to the leader of the country’s Islamic community, has appealed for the PAD to permit pilgrims to fly out of the new international airport. According to the Bangkok Post there is concern that the blockade may send a message of religious intolerance to Saudi Arabia. Thai Airways have managed to arrange one chartered flight from Hat Yai International Airport to Jeddah, although this will only accommodate 250 of those seeking to attend the Hajj.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered Prime Minister Somchai remains in his home town of Chiang Mai in the north of the country. He was forced to divert there when returning from an APEC summit in Peru, and has set no date for his return to the capital. With concern that a coup may be in the offing, cabinet business is being conducted via video conferences with other senior government officials who are in Bangkok. He has dismissed calls from the military for the current government to be dissolved and fresh elections held.

With police apparently determined to avoid a repeat of the October 7 clashes that left two dead and around 500 injured, it may be the involvement of government supporters that tips the current crisis into violent confrontation. The pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has called for their supporters to disperse PAD occupation of the airports should the government fail to act.



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November 25, 2008

‘King Taksin operation’ enters second day, Thai government disrupted

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PAD founder Sondhi Limthongkul speaking at a rally in 2006.
Image: exceedcharge.

Billing their campaign of disruption as the ‘King Taksin operation’, the Thai anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) succeeded yesterday in having the day’s parliamentary session cancelled. In moving into the second day of blockades and protests, they have expanded their operations to disrupt government business.

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Taksin (not to be confused with the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra) was an 18th century Siamese monarch noted for his prowess in warfare, the unification of Thailand, and expelling Burmese influence. One tale of his exploits details ordering rice bowls to be broken before a battle, the implication being his troops would not eat until victory was achieved. Within Thailand he is known as ‘Taksin the Great’, and the association the PAD is trying to make is in line with their claim to be pro-monarchy.

PAD protesters had begun massing on Sunday, and yesterday morning they besieged the parliament building, forcing the joint MP and Senate sessions to be cancelled. A call for a parallel strike by public sector workers met with apathy; it had been hoped this would further disrupt the running of the country and help bring down the People’s Power Party (PPP) government of Somchai Wongsawat.

With parliament out of action, PAD protesters began targeting additional offices of the government. Key among these is the temporary home of the cabinet, Don Mueang, the old Bangkok international airport. The government has been operating out of some of the mothballed buildings at the airport since the PAD seized the main Government House compound and buildings in late August.

The government asserts that the constitutional changes which the PAD is vehemently opposed to were not on the agenda for Monday’s session. Instead Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) related legislation was to be discussed. As the current chair of ASEAN, concern has been expressed that Thailand may lose face if unable to ratify a variety of treaties at the upcoming meeting in Chiang Mai, north Thailand. The protesters have vowed to disrupt parliamentary sessions until it goes into recess, or the government stands down.

Thaksin Shinawatra at the Pentagon in 2005.

In the aftermath of last month’s clashes, where two protesters were killed when police used tear gas, the authorities have avoided any confrontation that could turn violent. When protesters massed at parliament, police allowed them to lay siege to the empty building. Similarly, the protest outside the old international airport has been unimpeded. Measures are in place to prevent occupation of the buildings, but no clashes have occurred. Operation of domestic flights from other parts of the airport have continued without disruption although travellers have been warned to allow extra time getting to the airport due to traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, the PAD’s arch-nemesis, the deposed ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has stated his intention to return to Thai politics and condemned the UK government for revoking his visa. In an interview with Abu Dhabi’s Arabian Business, Thaksin stated, “With me at the helm I can bring confidence quickly back to Thailand. We have to find a mechanism under which I can go back, that is why I must tell you that I will go back into politics.” The full interview is due to be published this Sunday.

He bemoaned the decision of the British government to cancel his visa; now in self-imposed exile and facing a two year prison sentence, should he return to Thailand, he is believed to be staying in Dubai. According to The Bangkok Post, the UK decision now makes him a wanted man on the run.


Related news

Sources

  • Jonathan Head “Thailand protesters extend action”. BBC News Online, November 25, 2008
  • “Parliament paralysed”. The Bangkok Post, November 25, 2008
  • “Breaking face”. The Bangkok Post, November 25, 2008
  • Thai News Agency “Ministers flee as protesters move on temporary Govt House”. MCOT, November 24, 2008
  • “PAD set to launch ‘king taksin operation'”. The Nation (Thailand), November 24, 2008
  • “‘I’ll be back'”. The Bangkok Post, November 24, 2008


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

November 23, 2008

Opposing Thai protesters mass, PAD to march on parliament

Opposing Thai protesters mass, PAD to march on parliament

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
…More articles here
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To write, edit, start or view other articles on Thailand, see the Thailand Portal
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Thailand’s ongoing political crisis continues today with pro- and anti-government rallies being held. Meeting outside Bangkok, the pro-government United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) is holding one of their “Truth Today” talkshows at Suan Kaew Temple. In the anti-government camp, supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) are massing at the occupied Government House compound and calling their planned march on parliament their “final battle”.

In contrast to a confrontation with authorities which could last days, the pro-government UDD talk show and rally is expected to disperse this evening. Organisers and government party MPs have given assurances there are no plans to confront PAD demonstrators.

Ensconced in the Government House compound since August, the PAD protesters’ march on parliament was announced over this weekend following a grenade attack on Thursday that killed one and injured over 20. The yellow-shirted protesters assert that the People’s Power Party (PPP) government lead by Somchai Wongsawat is too close to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Protest leaders insist their planned siege of the parliament is intended to prevent discussion of legislation to amend the constitution. The PAD claim the amendments are intended to rehabilitate Thaksin and members of his outlawed Thai Rak Thai party who were banned from holding office. The Prime Minister has denied any plans to review this draft legislation, stating that the agenda is predominantly related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

With two killed and over 500 injured in the last attempt to disrupt parliament, various hospitals and groups of medical staff are on standby, ready to treat any injured protesters. The October 7 protest at parliament saw police fire explosive tear gas rounds into the PAD crowd, causing death and loss of limbs. Following instructions from the Public Health Minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, eleven hospitals have been told to be on alert.



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November 22, 2008

Second grenade attack in Thailand injures eight

Saturday, November 22, 2008

People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters camped in the grounds of Government House
Image: Craig Martell.

Early this morning, a grenade attack on People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters at Thailand’s Government House injured eight, two seriously.

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This is the second attack this week, following an earlier grenade attack on Thursday which killed one and injured between 20 and 29. The earlier attack prompted planning for a rally and march on parliament tomorrow where the PAD aims to try and topple the current People’s Power Party (PPP) government.

According to Thailand’s English-language paper, The Nation, doctors have stated that one of those injured in the blast is brain dead. Anupong Samerphak, one of the PAD security staff, was hit in the body and neck by shrapnel from the grenade and remains on a respirator.

Further details of The Nation’s report state that eyewitnesses claim two teenagers made use of a grenade launcher to carry out the attack before making their escape on a motorcycle. In addition to the eight casualties, two pick-up trucks, a car, and a motorcycle were damaged; the blast left a crater near the Fifth gate of the Government House compound.

The anti-government PAD protesters have now been occupying the Government House compound for over three months, demanding the dissolution of the government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. They assert that the PPP is acting on behalf of deposed former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose populist Thai Rak Thai (lit. Thais love Thais) government was overthrown by a military coup in 2006 and later outlawed. Both Somchai and his predecessor in the post of PM, Samak Sundaravej, have faced fierce criticism from the yellow-shirted protest movement. Samak was forced out of office in September, with Somchai, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, acting as caretaker until officially assuming the office later in September.

The embattled current PM, Somchai, expressed fears to journalists over the planned PAD protest for tomorrow and Monday. Speaking in Peru, where he is attending an APEC summit, he highlighted the possibility of the demonstrations impeding the passage of 24 new laws related to the country’s involvement in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Delegations from other nations attending the APEC summit have expressed surprise that Thailand has not taken action to dislodge the protesters from Government House.


Related news

Sources

  • “Grenade wounds Thai demonstrators”. BBC News Online, November 22, 2008
  • “8 injured in bomb attack outside Government House”. The Nation (Thailand), November 22, 2008
  • Thai News Agency “PM worries over planned anti-government protest”. MCOT, November 22, 2008
  • Orathai Sriring “Grenade wounds 8 Thai protesters ahead of Sunday rally”. Reuters, November 21, 2008


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

November 21, 2008

Thaksin’s ex-wife appeals tax evasion conviction

Friday, November 21, 2008

The former wife of fugitive Thai ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra has filed an appeal against her conviction and three year sentence for tax evasion. Potjaman Shinawatra, step-brother Bannapot Damapong, and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern were previously found guilty of conspiring to evade taxes in a share transfer deal.

Thailand’s Criminal Court ruled in July that the transfer of 4.5 million shares in Shin Computer and Communications (Now Shin Corp) was illegally declared as a family gift, and that the three conspired in the transfer arrangement to evade 546 million Baht (US$15 million) in taxes. Potjaman and her brother Bannapot were sentenced to three years each; her secretary Karnchanapa to two years.

The 130 page writ of appeal was filed today, citing ten points where the prosecution is contested. The court had ruled that the disputed transaction did not actually take place in the stock market and there had been collusion to avoid paying the due tax.

Potjaman remains in self-imposed exile having left Thailand while on bail following the prosecution. Her ex-husband Thaksin Shinawatra is believed to be in Dubai; the couple divorced in Hong Kong last week.


Related news

Sources

  • “Potjaman appeals”. Bangkok Post, November 22, 2008
  • “Court accepts Khunying Pojaman’s appeal against tax-evasion charges”. The Nation (Thailand), November 22, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Thaksin’s ex-wife appeals tax evasion conviction

Friday, November 21, 2008

The former wife of fugitive Thai ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra has filed an appeal against her conviction and three year sentence for tax evasion. Potjaman Shinawatra, step-brother Bannapot Damapong, and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern were previously found guilty of conspiring to evade taxes in a share transfer deal.

Thailand’s Criminal Court ruled in July that the transfer of 4.5 million shares in Shin Computer and Communications (Now Shin Corp) was illegally declared as a family gift, and that the three conspired in the transfer arrangement to evade 546 million Baht (US$15 million) in taxes. Potjaman and her brother Bannapot were sentenced to three years each; her secretary Karnchanapa to two years.

The 130 page writ of appeal was filed today, citing ten points where the prosecution is contested. The court had ruled that the disputed transaction did not actually take place in the stock market and there had been collusion to avoid paying the due tax.

Potjaman remains in self-imposed exile having left Thailand while on bail following the prosecution. Her ex-husband Thaksin Shinawatra is believed to be in Dubai; the couple divorced in Hong Kong last week.


Related news

Sources

  • “Potjaman appeals”. Bangkok Post, November 22, 2008
  • “Court accepts Khunying Pojaman’s appeal against tax-evasion charges”. The Nation (Thailand), November 22, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Thaksin’s ex-wife appeals tax evasion conviction

Friday, November 21, 2008

The former wife of fugitive Thai ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra has filed an appeal against her conviction and three year sentence for tax evasion. Potjaman Shinawatra, step-brother Bannapot Damapong, and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern were previously found guilty of conspiring to evade taxes in a share transfer deal.

Thailand’s Criminal Court ruled in July that the transfer of 4.5 million shares in Shin Computer and Communications (Now Shin Corp) was illegally declared as a family gift, and that the three conspired in the transfer arrangement to evade 546 million Baht (US$15 million) in taxes. Potjaman and her brother Bannapot were sentenced to three years each; her secretary Karnchanapa to two years.

The 130 page writ of appeal was filed today, citing ten points where the prosecution is contested. The court had ruled that the disputed transaction did not actually take place in the stock market and there had been collusion to avoid paying the due tax.

Potjaman remains in self-imposed exile having left Thailand while on bail following the prosecution. Her ex-husband Thaksin Shinawatra is believed to be in Dubai; the couple divorced in Hong Kong last week.


Related news

Sources

  • “Potjaman appeals”. Bangkok Post, November 22, 2008
  • “Court accepts Khunying Pojaman’s appeal against tax-evasion charges”. The Nation (Thailand), November 22, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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