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Thailand's ex-premier gets 2 years for graft

October 22, 2008|the associated press

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was convicted of corruption Tuesday and sentenced to two years in prison, a ruling that may embolden anti-government protesters.

Thaksin said the charges, which involve a real estate purchase by his wife, were politically motivated. Prosecutors said they would try to extradite him from Britain.

Thaksin, 59, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, remains the nation's most influential politician.

He is adored in rural areas, where he built up a political base during his nearly six years in power, but is reviled by many of the educated elite in the cities, where his administration was seen as corrupt.

His brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, is the current prime minister, and demonstrators have branded him a Thaksin puppet.

Thaksin said the verdict was a continuation of the coup.

"It was expected, it wasn't a surprise, and there will be more to come," he said, adding that he planned to stay in Britain.

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