Thailand's Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by the fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his family against the seizure of $1.4 billion (Dh5.1bn) of their assets. Mr Thaksin, who was stripped of more than half his fortune in February for abuse of power, did not provide any new evidence to support his case, the court found after almost two hours of deliberation by no fewer than 119 judges.
"The legal process is over. There is nothing we can do," said his lawyer Chatthip Tantaprasart. Thai courts have issued a series of warrants for Thaksin for charges including terrorism an accusation linked to violent street protests in April and May by his supporters within the anti-government "Red Shirt" movement. The former telecoms tycoon was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a prison jail imposed in absentia for corruption.
The decision in February to confiscate 60 per cent of his $2.3bn of frozen assets angered his red-shirted supporters, who staged two months of opposition rallies in the heart of Bangkok from mid-March. The protests descended into several bouts of bloodshed that left at least 90 people dead and some 1,900 injured in a series of clashes between armed troops and demonstrators. The Red Shirts, largely from Thailand's impoverished north and north-east, love the former leader for his populist policies and accuse the current government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of being an unelected elite.
The tycoon's opponents in the Bangkok-based circles around the palace, military and bureaucracy accuse Mr Thaksin of being corrupt, dictatorial and a threat to Thailand's widely revered monarchy. *AFP