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Thailand's ousted premier to return home soon

Wife of Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Wednesday that her husband will return home from self-imposed exile in May to face corruption charges.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2008 17:14 IST
Xinhua

Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of Thailand's ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Wednesday that her husband will return home from self-imposed exile in May to face corruption charges.

Pojaman made the statement when appearing before the Supreme Court on charges that she used her husband's political influence to buy prime Bangkok real state from a government agency at a third of its estimated value.

During the brief first hearing, Pojamarn pleaded not guilty and asked the court for 90 days to prepare documents and witnesses to buttress her defence.

The court agreed and set April 29 the date of the next hearing.

Pojaman returned to Thailand from Hong Kong on January 8 to fight the charges, and was released on bail after reporting to the Supreme Court.

Thaksin, who has been living overseas since ousted in a military coup in September 2006, said early that he would return to defend himself at court by mid-April.

A court statement also said that Thaksin would return in May to fight the same charges as his wife.

Thaksin and Pojaman are formally charged with abuses of power in the 2003 purchase of the plot of land in central Bangkok from the Financial Institutions Development Fund, a government agency set up to bail out debt-ridden banks.

An anti-corruption law bars prime ministers or their spouses from doing business with government agencies.

Pojamarn also faces charges in connection with a case alleging that she and Thaksin concealed millions of dollars worth of shares in SC Asset, the family's real estate holding company.