Thailand requests UAE to closely monitor Thaksin's movement


BANGKOK, Feb 22 (TNA) - The Thai Ministry of of Foreign Affairs has asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to closely monitor the movements of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinwatra for three weeks from the present moment to help determine whether he is using Dubai as a base from which to
threaten Thailand's stability as a Bangkok court is set to rule Friday whether or not to seize his frozen assets, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Panich Vikitsreth said Monday.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions will rule February 26 whether to seize the assets gained from the sale of
telecom giant Shin Corp at Bt76.6 billion (US$2.3 billion), plus interest, on charges that the ex-premier had acquired his massive wealth through
corrupt and illegal practices. Read more>>

Mr Panich told reporters after meeting with UAE ambassador to Thailand Mohammed Ali Ahmed Omran Al Shamsi for 40 minutes that he had requested
the envoy to coordinate with his government in order to closely monitor Mr Thaksin for three weeks whether he use the kingdom as a springboard to
cause instablilty in Thailand or cause security threat against Thailand's key figures.

The vice minister said he believed if there was any violence and it was found that Mr Thaksin was involved with such an incident, the UAE may consider expelling Mr Thaksin from its jurisdiction.

He added that the UAE had once expelled Mr Thaksin from the kingdom but he did not provide details of the incident.

The Supreme Court on Monday had issued guidelines for the verdict reading on February 26 that the media would be allowed into the courtroom only
two per news organisation.

Only audio of the judges reading the verdict, would be transmitted from the courtroom.

The authorities had stepped up security, no unauthorised people would be allowed to enter the court after 8pm of February 25 in order to clear the way for security personnel to inspect the courtroom.

Some 150 personnel of joint police and military forces would be deployed to ensure the security at and around the court while two check-points were
set up to monitor security.

As for the request that the UAE temporarily detain Mr Thaksin before extraditing him to serve his  two-year jail term in Thailand for power abuse, Mr Panich said the Dubai authorities are considering the request.

It is considered a good sign that the UAE court has asked the Office of the Attorney-General to translate all documents related to the case into
Arabic, the vice minister said.

A Thai court in October 2008 sentenced Mr Thaksin in absentia to two years prison for abuse of power, for allowing his then wife to buy a plot of
prime Bangkok land at a below-the-market price in 2003 while he was a prime minister.

Mr Thaksin, who jumped the bail, reportedly spent most of his time in Dubai, UAE.

Mr Panich said his talk with the UAE ambassador also focussed on the embezzlement case  involving Michael Bryan Smith, which could demonstrate
the good cooperation existing between Thailand and UAE on extradition.

Thailand's Criminal Court on February 18 ruled to extradite Mr Smith, 45, a British national, to face trial in UAE on fraud charges involving more
than US$150 million.

Mr Smith, a human resources manager of a Dubai-based company, was charged with falsifying  documents and using false documents for unauthorised transfers of corporate funds to his own bank account in 2008. He then fled Dubai to Thailand.

Thailand previously sought the UAE's cooperation in arresting and returning former prime  minister Thaksin to Thailand, the two countries
have not signed an extradition treaty, said the vice minister.

Mr Panich said Thailand and UAE had held talks over the extradition treaty during January 9-13 but could not reach the conclusion. Thailand had
proposed the fresh talks and UAE said they could be available for the next round of talks in May or June.

Even if Thailand and UAE are yet to sign the extradition treaty but Thailand's Extradition Act of B.E.2551 (2008) opens options for cooperation on reciprocal basis, he said, adding that any person found committing similar offences could be extradited.

However, Mr Panich conceded that the cases of  Mr Thaksin and Mr Smith are different, so he could not say whether or not reciprocity can be applied.

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