Wife of ex-Thai prime minister pleads 'not guilty'

The wife of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pleaded innocent to corruption charges Tuesday, saying the anti-graft agency that established the case against her and her husband was illegitimate.

Wife of ex-Thai prime minister pleads 'not guilty'
Pojaman Shinawatra presented her written plea to the Supreme Court, which has charged her and her husband with abuse of power and conflict of interest over her purchase of prime Bangkok real estate from a state agency.

Thaksin, who returned from exile in February after his political allies won December 2007 elections, entered an innocent plea at an earlier court hearing.

"The accused argued that she is not a state official," Judge Thonglor Chomngam said, citing Pojaman's statement. She "also argued that the Assets Examination Commission does not have legal authority and power."

The commission is an anti-graft agency established under martial law by the leaders of a military coup that ousted Thaksin in September 2006. The agency was assigned to investigate corruption accusations against Thaksin, his family and associates, and has filed several cases against them.

Thaksin and Pojaman have been charged with malfeasance and conflict of interest for the 2003 purchase of a 13.2-acre plot of land in central Bangkok at a favorable price from the Financial Institutions Development Fund, a government agency set up to bail out debt-ridden banks.

An anti-corruption law bars prime ministers or their spouses from doing business with government agencies. But there is some dispute over whether the law applies in this case because the agency that sold the land is not technically under the authority of the prime minister.

The couple also faces a separate case alleging they concealed millions of dollars worth of shares in SC Asset, the family's real estate holding company.

They have also been charged with violating disclosure regulations by failing to report the ownership and sale of shares to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Agencies
Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2008, 11:38
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