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Supreme Court to rule on Thaksin corruption case

Thailand's Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Thai authorities can seize about 2.2 billion dollars of frozen assets belonging to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, accused of accumulating the money through questionable businesses.

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It’s “V-Day” for Thaksin, the Thai press headlined Tuesday, as the country’s Supreme Court prepares to issue its verdict on the former premier’s corruption case.

 

Will Thailand’s most popular ever prime minister also become the country’s first head of government to be sentenced to jail?

 

If he is found guilty today, in the first of a series of corruption trials, Thaksin faces between 10 and 23 years in prison. With the country mired in a poisonous political climate, the stakes are high.

 

Thailand is going through one of the gravest crises in its history. Political violence is rife in the streets of the capital Bangkok, while the latest government is virtually paralysed.

 

In such a context, the billionaire Thaksin arouses all kinds of passions.

 

Thailand is split in two, between those who back the former premier and those who reject him. Among the former are millions of neglected rural inhabitants, seduced by his populist rhetoric. For them, he is the “champion of the poor”.

 

As for the middle classes, once captivated by Thaksin, they have since been estranged by the widespread nepotism characterising his administration.

 

At present, they swell the ranks of the protesters, including students and royalists, who have laid siege to parliament for over two months, calling for the government’s resignation.

 

Back in August, Thaksin and his clan opted for the safety of exile in London. Yet, whatever the outcome of the trial, both camps have vowed to carry the struggle to the bitter end.

 

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