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Thai prime minister vows not to interfere in graft case against ousted predecessor




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Sunday, March 9, 2008
AP


BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said Sunday he would not intervene in the upcoming corruption cases against his ousted predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Samak said warnings from political opponents and activists not to interfere in legal proceedings against Thaksin - who was deposed in a September 2006 military coup - were unnecessary.

"My government would not dare to intervene into the judicial process and will never do so," Samak said. "He will appear in court on March 12 on his own and fight the cases himself, the government will not be involved in his charges," Samak said in his weekly nationwide radio talk.

Critics have accused Samak of acting in defense of Thaksin, charging that the political party he heads is a proxy for Thaksin's interests.

Samak's People's Power Party was set up by Thaksin loyalists after the former leader's Thai Rak Thai Party was disbanded by court order. Thaksin and more than 100 of the party's top executives were also banned from political office for five years.

Suspicions over Samak's intentions were heightened by last month's transfers of police officials involved in investigating cases against Thaksin.

Samak ordered national police chief Gen. Seriphisut Temiyawej, who was appointed after Thaksin's ouster, transferred to an inactive post at the prime minister's office. Samak claimed Seriphisut had not carried out his duties in an acceptable fashion.

Samak also moved the chief of the Department of Special Investigations from his job, along with more than two dozen of his subordinates.

Thaksin returned to Thailand on Feb. 28 from 17 months of exile to answer the charges against him. He could face up to 15 years in jail for two cases lodged against him involving corruption and conflict of interest and failing to disclose his family's shareholdings.



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