Deposed Thai PM Pleads Not Guilty to Graft

Crowds welcome Thaksin back from exile
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2008 9:47 AM CDT
Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, center, talks with a monk as he leaves supreme court in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, March 12, 2008. Thaksin pleaded innocent in the Supreme Court in one...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra pleaded not guilty to graft charges today in a Supreme Court packed with hundreds of his supporters, AFP reports. Thaksin will not have to attend every hearing in his trial; he has already obtained permission to return to Britain, where he owns a soccer team. Outside the courthouse, many Thaksin loyalists carried roses for the former leader, and several broke down in tears.

Thaksin returned to Thailand two weeks ago for the first time since the country's military deposed him in a 2006 bloodless coup. He's charged with two counts of corruption involving a real estate deal. He allegedly used his political influence to obtain more favorable terms for his wife in a business transaction. Both he and his wife face up to 13 years in prison if convicted, although observers don't expect a guilty verdict.