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Thai court throws out Thaksin perjury case

Written by: Staff

BANGKOK, Sep 11 (Reuters) A Thai court threw out a bid by an American businessman to prosecute Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for perjury tonday, a case that could have seen him banned from politics for five years if successful.

The Bangkok Criminal Court refused to hear the complaint, saying a 10-year statute of limitations had expired for the first of the alleged perjuries stemming from a 17-year legal battle between Thaksin and Seattle cable TV operator William Monson.

However, Monson and his lawyer remained upbeat, saying they would refile their complaint, which also relates to two other alleged perjuries in November 1996 and January 1997.

''It's a continuing battle and we will keep fighting,'' said Monson, a former cable TV business partner of Thaksin. ''We are just looking for the truth.'' Monson alleges Thaksin, a former policeman, reneged on their deal to bring cable television into Thailand in the 1980s, stole transmission equipment and forced Monson out of the business.

Thaksin has already sued Monson for embezzlement and breach of contract, although Monson has been cleared in the Criminal, Civil and Appeals courts.

It is during these hearings that Monson alleges Thaksin committed perjury.

Thaksin's opponents, who have been staging a year-long campaign to kick him out from office, had seized on the case, hoping for a criminal conviction that would have automatically removed him from public office for five years.

A refiled case is likely to face the same time pressures as this one, as Monson and his legal team must get Thaksin in court to stop the clock on the statute of limitations.

Reuters DKB GC1033

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