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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cambodia Rejects Thailand's Request To Extradite Thaksin

(RTTNews) - Cambodia on Wednesday rejected a formal request made by Thailand for the extradition of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been convicted of corruption charges in his home country.

Earlier in the day, three Thai diplomats handed over a formal request for the detention and extradition of Thaksin to Cambodia's foreign ministry. However, the Cambodian ministry rejected the request within hours of its submission.

Cambodia's foreign ministry said in a statement later that the Thailand's request was not covered by the extradition treaty between the two countries as it considers the conviction of Thaksin on corruption charges to be politically motivated. The statement added that the toppling of the former Thai PM by the country's military came despite Thaksin being "overwhelmingly and democratically elected by the Thai people".

The Thai request for the extradition of Thaksin came after the former Thai Prime Minister arrived in Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh on Tuesday to take up a position as an economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Thaksin had served as Thailand's Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, before being toppled in a military coup. He has been living in self-imposed exile, mainly in Dubai, after the military ousted him a coup in September 2006, accusing the former PM of corruption.

The military controlled the country for a short period until new elections in 2007 December brought Thaksin's allies back into power. Soon afterwards, Thaksin returned to his home country, but was sentenced to two years in absentia for corruption after he went into exile again.
The present Thai government under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came into power in December in a special parliamentary vote after the country's constitutional court ousted Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, an ally of Thaksin, from office and disbanded his ruling People Power Party (PPP) over electoral fraud.

The latest diplomatic row over Thaksin's extradition comes as relations between Thailand and Cambodia are already strained over a disputed ancient temple on their border. Both the countries claim ownership of the temple, which is located inside Cambodian territory. However, the main approach to the temple is from Thailand.

The long-standing dispute over the Preah Vihear border temple began after International Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, and escalated after Unesco listed it as a World Heritage Site recently. The dispute has led to several clashes between the armies of the two countries near the site of the border temple.

by RTT Staff Writer

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