Ousted Thai PM's wife returns home to answer graft charges

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Bangkok, Jan 8 (UNI) Coup-ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's wife returned to the country today and was released on bail after being arrested on arrival for ignoring an earlier court summons to answer graft allegations against the couple.

In a message on his website today, Mr Shinawatra, living abroad in self-imposed exile since his ouster on September 19, 2006 by the armed forces, said his wife had returned to offer her condolences on the death of the King's elder sister last week.

''As a Thai citizen, I would like to state that there is no land dispensing happiness to every Thai comparable to the homeland under the benevolence of His Majesty, the King,'' he declared.

In his statement, the former prime minister said his wife ''in her capacity as a loyal subject, wishes to spend her life in Thailand in peace with her family under the reign of His Majesty.'' Her return was also ''for her surrender to the courts of justice willingly and voluntarily to fight charges and prove her innocence in accordance with the judicial proceedings and the rule of law.'' Mr Shinawatra affirmed that he and his wife were ready to fight all charges against them of misuse of office for personal gain while he was prime minister.

A Thai court had issued summons last year against the couple to answer allegations that the ousted prime minister had abused his authority during the sale of a highly-prized Bangkok property by a state agency to his wife.

This is one of the several graft charges being probed by Thai investigators since the coup d'etat, with little progress so far.

UNI XC SKB VC1544

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