Bill 'not to whitewash Thaksin cases'

Bill 'not to whitewash Thaksin cases'
Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri, centre, holds a press conference with Department of Legal Execution director-general Wisit Wisitsora-at, second left, and Department of Special Investigation director-general Tarit Pengdith, second right.

THAILAND - The revised version of the amnesty bill will not cover corruption or individual criminal cases including those faced by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, Prayuth Siripanich insisted yesterday after facing a flood of questions.

Prayuth, deputy chair of a House committee vetting the amnesty bill, sponsored the amended clauses that grant blanket amnesty.

"The amnesty will not be applied to Thaksin because his legal predicament stemmed from alleged abuse of power with no links to political rallies," he told The Nation yesterday.

The 35-member ad hoc committee voted on Friday to rewrite a clause proposed by Prayuth that includes people facing legal action in cases stemming from investigations post the 2006 coup.

The most controversial point in the revised version is the expansion of the bill's coverage to include those accused of wrongdoing by the now-defunct Assets Examination Committee, which was set up after the 2006 coup to investigate alleged irregularities by the Thaksin government.

In October 2008, the Supreme Court sentenced the former PM to two years in jail for alleged abuse of power in relation to the Ratchadaphisek land scandal, after his then-wife bought a state-seized plot for a price much lower than the market price.

In February 2010, the court seized Bt46 billion (S$1.8 billion) of Thaksin's assets believed to have been earned from abuse of power, though other cases against him have been suspended while he remains a fugitive abroad.

Asked if Thaksin will get back the Bt46 billion, Prayuth said the amnesty bill does not allow for the seized assets to be returned.

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