Deposed Thai PM Returns Home

Crowds and cops greet Thaksin as he flies home for first time since coup
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2008 6:33 AM CST
Supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra shout his name outside the VIP terminal Thursday, Feb. 28, 2007 at Bangkok International Airport, Thailand. Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra flew home today after 17 months in exile to cheering supporters and police, who quickly escorted him to court to face corruption charges. Thaksin, the billionaire owner of the Manchester City soccer team who was forced from power by a military coup, knelt and touched his native soil with his forehead when he landed in Bangkok. 

A Thaksin ally won Thailand's recent elections, the first since the coup, and many opponents suspect Thaksin has returned to wield power from behind the scenes. Thaksin, however, says he just wants to clear his name and concentrate on soccer. He'll also be looking to secure the release of $1.6 billion in frozen assets. Thaksin could face up to 15 years in prison if he's convicted of  the charges against him. For now he's out on bail.