Ousted Thai PM's wife to face corruption charges

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Bangkok, Jan 8: The wife of Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned home today to face corruption cases.

Mrs Khunying Potjaman Shinawatra was arrested by immigration police today on her arrival at Bangkok airport but was later released on bail, officials said. With her husband, Mrs Potjaman faces two sets of charges related to alleged violation of stock-trading laws and a land sale. From the airport, Mrs Khunying Potjaman was taken to the Supreme Court, which had issued arrest warrants for the couple for abuse of power. She was released on bail of five million baht (149,000 US dollars), and ordered not to leave the country without the court's permission.

The court also set January 23 as the opening date for her trial on charges of using her husband's political influence to buy prime Bangkok real estate from a government agency at one-third its estimated value.

Mr Shinawatra issued a two-page letter to his supporters, giving reasons for his wife's return and emphasising the couple's loyalty to revered King Bumibhol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch.

''As a Thai, there is no country, which can equally give Thais happiness like Thailand under His Majesty's grace,'' the ousted premier said.

''A loyal subject such as Khunying Potjaman Shinawatra wishes to return to Thailand to lead her life with her family peacefully under His Majesty's grace, '' the letter added.

The military junta initiated a number of investigations against Mr Shinawatra in the wake of its bloodless coup, accusing him of corruption and favouritism.


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