A Thai court issued a fourth arrest warrant for the toppled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra today, but his spokesman insisted that the former leader would not return to Thailand to stand trial. Mr Thaksin, who was ousted from power in a 2006 coup, recently fled Thailand to escape a string of corruption charges. The personal spokesman of Mr Thaksin, Phongthep Thepkanchana, told reporters at the Supreme Court that Mr Thaksin and his family would not return to Thailand to stand trial.
"Thaksin and his family are now living in London and he will not return to face any trial in the near future," Mr Phongthep said. The Supreme Court issued today's fresh warrant because Mr Thaksin failed to report to court in an abuse of power case tied to an irregular lottery allegedly run by Mr Thaksin, his former Cabinet and other officials. Mr Phongthep is one of the dozens of former Thaksin officials charged in the case. Mr Phongthep, along with the other defendants who attended court today, were released on bail. The court set the next hearing for late December. Mr Thaksin's three other arrest warrants are related to separate corruption cases. The penalties in each case carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. * AP