Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thailand high court takes corruption case against ex-PM Thaksin, cabinet ministers

Mike Rosen-Molina at 7:26 AM ET

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[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Thailand Monday agreed to hear [AP report] a new corruption case against ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and 47 others, including three current cabinet members. The case involves allegations of misconduct related to the national lottery system, and names Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, Labor Minister Uraiwan Thienthong and Deputy Transport Minister Anurak Jureemas as defendants. The status of the serving ministers under Thai law is in dispute; at a meeting [Reuters report] Tuesday, the Cabinet asked the government's legal experts to look into the issue and make recommendations rather than suspend the ministers outright, as some experts say is required under the constitution. AFP has more.

Earlier this month, the Thai Attorney General's Office filed other corruption charges [JURIST report] against Thaksin relating to a 2003 resolution that reduced fees paid by mobile phone companies to state telecommunications agencies. A company then owned by Thaksin's family saw the greatest benefit from the new payment scheme, leading to claims that Thaksin misused his authority for personal gain. Thaksin, who was ousted in a military coup [JURIST report] in 2006, is currently the subject of 24 legal actions.

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