Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thai ex-PM returns home amid tight security

BANGKOK, Feb 28 (TNA)--Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to his homeland amid tight security Thursday morning, ending 17 months of self-imposed exile abroad since the Sept ember 2006 military coup that ousted him from the country's leadership. Once stepping on the Thai soil, Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr 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 Mr. Thaksin and his wife Pojaman for allegedly concealing ownership of shares in family business, SC Asset. (TNA)