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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2620

Ex Thai Prime Minister Thaksin arrives home: vows to remain out of politics

Bangkok, 29 February, (Asiantribune.com): Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand amidst tight security Thursday morning, ending 17 months of self-imposed exile since the September 2006 military coup that ousted him from the country's leadership. Once stepping on the Thai soil, Thaksin knelt down, placed both his hands on the ground and bowed down. At least 600 policemen were deployed at Suvarnabhumi airport where a large crowd of Thaksin supporters, many of them carrying placards welcoming him back, waited anxiously for his arrival. Repeating his intention to stay out of politics, he announced that he would spend his time back in the country fighting charges against him and restoring his tarnished reputation.Thaksin  Kneeling down at the Thai airport no sooner he got from the flightThaksin Kneeling down at the Thai airport no sooner he got from the flight

Thaksin, accompanied by his aides and a group of journalists, travelled from Hong Kong on a Thai Airways International flight TG603. He was welcomed at Suvarnabhumi airport by members of the present and previous cabinets.

The ex-premier went directly from Suvarnabhumi airport to the Supreme Court and was scheduled to move later to the Office of the Attorney-General to surrender himself to the authorities to fight malfeasance charges.

The Supreme Court's Crime Division for Holders of Political Positions has issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin over the 772-million-baht purchase of Bangkok prime land from the Financial Institutions Development Fund in 2003. The Assets Examination Committee found that he used his position to influence the deal.

The Department of Special Investigation has charged Thaksin and his wife Pojaman for allegedly concealing ownership of shares in family business, SC Asset.

Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra gives a traditional greeting at a press conference in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, Feb. 28, 2008. Thaksin affirmed he would quit politics at his first press conference after returning to Thailand on Thursday morning, ending 17 months of self-exile since a military coup toppled his government.Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra gives a traditional greeting at a press conference in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, Feb. 28, 2008. Thaksin affirmed he would quit politics at his first press conference after returning to Thailand on Thursday morning, ending 17 months of self-exile since a military coup toppled his government.
Returning home like a long-lost son of the land, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand today, kissed the ground after 17 months absence, and went directly to court.

Thursday is undoubtedly one of the busiest days for the Thai media and police as the ex-premier returned home to a tight schedule which includes his appearances before two legal bodies and a press conference at a Bangkok's posh hotel.

After 17 months in self-imposed exile abroad, Thaksin stepped on the Thai soil and, after a brief immigration clearing procedure, was immediately rushed to the Supreme Court where he turned himself up to fight a malfeasance charge.

His lawyer put eight-million-baht (US$250,000) bail for his temporary freedom but must appear in court on March 12. The Supreme Court also banned him from leaving the country unless he seeks permission from the court.

After appearing at the Supreme Court, Thaksin was escorted into a Cadillac sedan to go to the Office of the Attorney-General to surrender himself to the authorities to another charge. The Department of Special Investigation has charged Thaksin and his wife Pojaman for allegedly concealing ownership of shares in family business, SC Asset.

He was later granted one-million-baht (US$31,250) bail by the DSI on the charge.

Later on Thursday, he gave press conference at the Peninsula Hotel, one of Bangkok's most luxurious hotels on the bank of the scenic Chao Phraya River, where he checked in to stay overnight.

At the press conference, Thailand's ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, repeating his intention to stay out of politics, announced Thursday he would spend his time back in the country fighting charges against him and restoring his tarnished reputation.

Flanked by his wife Pojaman and three children, Thaksin told a press conference at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel that he felt disheartened to have his fingerprints taken before the authorities as if he was a "common criminal."

He disclosed that he wanted to return to his homeland the next day after the September 19, 2006 coup but the situation was far from normal at that time.

"I'm 59 years old and life is not that long," said the former prime minister. "My utmost desire is to spend a happy life with my family. I want to work for charity and sports"

Thaksin apologized to well-wishers at the airport for not stopping by to talk to them because "I didn't feel comfortable with the security system."

He added that he wanted Thailand to be back on its own feet given the mounting economic concerns the country has been encountering, whether the subprime crisis or the rising oil prices.

- Asian Tribune -

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