Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra skipped bail yesterday and went into exile, accusing political enemies who removed him in a 2006 coup of meddling in the courts to “finish off” him and his family.
The Supreme Court issued arrest warrants for Thaksin and his wife, Potjaman, and seized 13m baht (£200,400) in bail bonds after he failed to appear in a corruption case.
In a hand-written statement faxed to news outlets from his refuge in London, the 59-year-old telecommunications billionaire apologised to the court for failing to appear in the case which also involves his wife.
“I must apologise again for deciding to come to live in England. If I am fortunate enough, I will return and die on Thai soil, just like other Thais,” he said.
His decision to flee, rather than fight a slew of corruption charges lodged since the coup, helped lift the Thai stock market 1.8 per cent on hopes political temperatures might cool after three years of turmoil.
Thaksin’s former political proteges in the People Power Party (PPP), which only won December’s election thanks to his huge rural popularity, quickly distanced themselves from what now appears to be an irreparably damaged former leader.
“The party is independent. Thaksin’s presence or absence doesn’t have any sway on its direction,” finance minister Surapong Suebwonglee said. Before the coup, Surapong was Thaksin’s spokesman and one of his most trusted aides.
“Our ultimate goal is to finish off the Thaksin regime by kicking out his puppet government,” spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said.