Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra gets another arrest warrant in telecom excise tax case

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions today (Mar 6) issued another warrant for the arrest of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra after he failed to appear to defend himself in a corruption case involving a telecom concession.

In this case, Thaksin was indicted of corruption over the conversion of revenue-sharing telecom concession to excise tax that inflicted over 66 billion baht loss to the state in 2008.

The Supreme Court scheduled today as the first hearing of the case brought against Thaksin by the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG)  after it was discarded of by the court for a decade after the defendant failed to appear in the court.

However, the OAG renewed its prosecution against him last November following the enforcement of a new law that allows trial in absentia of the defendants.

The nine-member panel of judges began hearing of the charges at 9.30am today without Thaksin or any of his representatives.

The OAG indicted 69-year-old Thaksin of having conflict of interest, abusing authority, negligence of duty that caused 66 billion baht damages to the state in the conversion of his family telecom business Shin Corporation’s revenue-sharing concession to excise tax payment system.

According to the OAG, the conversion had greatly benefitted his family’s telecom business but a tremendous loss to the state.

However, Thaksin didn’t appear to defend himself without any advanced notice of his absence, prompting the court to announce that the fugitive ex-premier has denied all charges and issued arrest warrant for him.

The court ordered the OAG to find out Thaksin’s whereabout and report the progress to the court once a month.

In case that he could not be arrested in 3 months after the date of the warrant, the court will then proceed with the trial at his absence.

During the trial, Thaksin could appoint his representative to attend the hearing any time, and he still has the right to defend himself before the court hands down the final ruling.

The court scheduled the next court session on July 10 for inspection of evidence. Notification would be sent to registered residence of the defendant to appear before the court.

The Supreme Court had earlier issued arrest warrants for Thaksin over several other cases he failed to appear. They included Krungthai Bank loan to Krissada Mahanakhon real estate, Exim Bank loan to Myanmar, and online lottery draw.