Thai PM delivers 21 boxes of graft defense to court

BANGKOK, Reuters

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sent to the Constitutional Court on Thursday 21 boxes of evidence to defend himself against an indictment by the country’s anti-graft agency, a judge told Reuters.

Thaksin, whose Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) Party won a landslide victory in the Jan. 6 general election, was indicted in December by the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) for failing to declare some of his assets.

If the Constitutional Court upholds the ruling, Thaksin faces a five-year ban from politics, which could throw Thailand’s fragile democracy into turmoil.

Thaksin is accused of trying to hide millions of dollars of assets from the authorities while he was a Cabinet minister in the ‘90s. He says he is innocent of the charges and has done nothing wrong.

Suvit Teerapong, one of 15 judges in the court, said Thaksin’s evidence was delivered ahead of a deadline on Sunday.

The prime minister failed to meet a previous deadline for the submission of evidence on Feb. 3 and was given more time to collect and verify evidence and documents.

“We need to study the contents of those 21 boxes of documents thoroughly before we can say whether it is sufficient for us to make a ruling,” Suvit said.

Thaksin has said his defense statement contained more than 7,000 pages of documents.

The court has said it would issue a ruling within a year but Thaksin has said any ruling could take two years, giving him plenty of time to start implementing his policies.