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Ousted Thai premier's wife is arrested

January 08, 2008|From the Associated Press

BANGKOK, THAILAND — The wife of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was arrested today after returning to Thailand to face corruption charges that could put her behind bars for 20 years, police said.

Police presented Potjaman Shinawatra with a warrant at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, said police Maj. Gen. Thaweesak Toochinda.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a September 2006 military coup, saw his wife off earlier in Hong Kong. Thaksin's lawyer said Monday that the former prime minister plans to return to Thailand from self-imposed exile by mid-April.

The case involves Potjaman's 2003 purchase of prime Bangkok real estate from the Financial Institutions Development Fund, a state rescue fund directed by the central bank. An anti-corruption law bars prime ministers or their spouses from doing business with government agencies.

The Supreme Court issued warrants in August for Thaksin and his wife on charges of conflict of interest and malfeasance. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The couple also face arrest over alleged concealment of his ownership of shares from the Thai Stock Exchange.

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