Ex-Thai PM Thaksin gets passport back: Govt
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Last Updated: Friday, December 16, 2011, 18:22
Bangkok: Thailand has given its fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra his passport back, the government said on Friday, despite strong opposition from the ex-tycoon's political opponents.

Thaksin, whose sister Yingluck is now prime minister, received the document from the Thai embassy in Abu Dhabi in October, the foreign ministry said.

Thaksin was stripped of his passport by the previous Thai government but received citizenship from Montenegro last year, allowing him to travel internationally.

Thaksin, who remains a hugely divisive figure, was deposed by the army in 2006 and lives in Dubai to avoid a two-year prison term on a conviction for corruption that he contends is politically motivated.

"This normal passport has nothing to do with extradition or whether he's innocent, but only his nationality," foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi told reporters.

"No government agency, including the police -- judiciary and interior ministry -- opposed the re-issue of Thaksin's passport," he said.

Thaksin's sister Yingluck won a resounding election victory earlier this year, in the wake of mass opposition protests in 2010 by his "Red Shirt" supporters which ended with a bloody army crackdown.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told reporters two weeks ago that Thailand would give Thaksin a passport "very soon". Thani said Surapong had not been aware at the time that the document had already been issued.

The announcement stoked tensions with Thaksin's enemies, already irked by recent reports -- denied by the government -- of plans to seek a royal pardon for the ex-premier that could allow him to return without serving time.


First Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 18:22

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