Coup leader finds little proof of Thaksin's alleged corruption

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

In an interview earlier today, the leader of the recent political coup in Thailand, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, said that he could not find solid evidence to support corruption charges against ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"It will be difficult to implicate him," said General Boonyaratglin. He added that he is "not sure how far the Office of the Auditor General can investigate suspected corruption cases involving him. They might get to nowhere at all...We cannot impound the money he made with accountable legal evidence, but can only look for some possible hidden (evidence) with questionable background..."

General Sonthi also justified the bloodless coup of September 19 by saying that the rampant corruption in Thailand was undermining democracy there.

After the coup, General Sonthi quickly reinstated the country's corruption watchdog to work alongside his own team of investigators to find evidence of corruption in Mr. Thaksin's leadership.

In addition to corruption, General Sonthi also cited the Thaksin administration's perceived lack of respect for the king as another reason to have staged the coup. He said that "Soldiers are obliged to protect the national security, safeguard the nation, and uphold loyalty to the monarchy. The military cannot tolerate any leaders who lack or have limited loyalty to the king..."

Insulting the 78-year-old monarch, who has spent 60 years on the throne, is considered a very serious crime in Thailand.

The general has admitted that the military could lose public support if no evidence is found to support the accusations.

Mr. Shinawatra is currently living in exile in London.