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Thai Court Issues Another Arrest Warrant For Ex-P.M.

Thailand's Supreme Court issued another arrest warrant Tuesday for Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted Prime Minister, for failing to appear in the case in which he allegedly abused his power to grant a controversial soft loan to military-ruled Myanmar.

Thaksin, who is accused of abusing power in another land-sale case, is now living in exile in the United Kingdom to avoid being prosecuted. The Supreme Court earlier issued arrest warrants to him and his wife Pojaman for failing to present themselves before the court in the land-sale case hearing.

The Supreme Court' s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders also decided not to begin hearing the case until Thaksin is arrested and brought before it.

"Today is the first hearing, and the defendant failed to appear even though he has received a summons," judge Panya Suthibodi said. "The court has ordered an arrest warrant for him because we don't know when the defendant will come back. The case will be temporarily suspended from the court's case list," he added.

Thaksin is accused of abusing his authority as the prime minister to pressure Bank for Exports and Imports (Exim) to grant four billion baht (about $118 million) as soft loan to Myanmar so that the military junta could spend the money to buy telecom equipment and services from firms of his family.

Last month, the court issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin and his wife Pojaman after they both jumped bail and fled to Britain. The couple was accused of using Thaksin's political influence to win a bargain-priced property deal for Pojaman, who has separately been convicted of tax evasion, and sentenced to three years in jail. The court is expected to announce its verdict in that case Wednesday.

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