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Thaksin guilty of corruption, Thai court rule -

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ELEANOR HALL: Thailand's former prime minister and now fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra, has added to
his list of firsts by being the first Thai prime minister to be convicted of corruption.

While the decision by the Kingdom's Supreme Court was anticipated, it will do nothing to lower the
political temperature in Thailand.

As South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy reports from the streets of Bangkok.

KAREN PERCY: Well aware of the volatility of the Kingdom's current political climate, the Supreme
Court judges took more than an hour and a half to lay out their findings.

They determined that Mr Thaksin had a clear conflict of interest when his wife Pojaman Shinawatra
bid on a parcel of land in Bangkok in 2003.

In a telephone interview over a poor phone line with the Reuters news agency, Mr Thaksin said he
had expected the verdict.

Mr Thaksin is currently living in England.

He's been there since August, when he and Mrs Pojaman fled a guilty finding against her.

She was sentenced to three years' jail for tax fraud; arrest warrants are out for both of them.

With this guilty verdict Thai prosecutors are pushing ahead with plans to extradite Mr Thaksin, he
faces at least four other criminal trials relating to government and private deals during his time
as prime minister.

From the outset, he has said the cases against him are politically motivated, that's because the
charges were brought about by the Assets Scrutiny Committee, an investigating body set up by the
military leaders who pushed him out in 2006.

But Professor Panitan Wattanayagorn from Chulalongkorn University says the court's decision has

PANITAN WATTANAYAGORN: As the cases are being transferred, or have been transferred to the normal
court, I think people have more confidence in the system now as the courts are now working, using
the principles and standards that the courts are using here and elsewhere.

KAREN PERCY: This decision will make life more difficult for the current Prime Minister, Somchai
Wongsawat who is Mr Thaksin's brother-in-law.

He's been in office barely a month, but has been under immense pressure.

There is the tense situation on the border with Cambodia, where last week the two countries briefly
fired guns and rockets at each other.

And he's facing an unyielding anti-government movement which blames him for the deaths of two
protestors in a police offensive two weeks ago.

It's clear that the military wants him gone.

In a broadcast last week that the local media is calling the television coup, the army chief,
General Anupong Paochinda, pushed for Mr Somchai to resign and for the Government to take the blame
for the bloodshed.

Mr Somchai is holding steady for now.

It's hard to tell if the court verdict against Mr Thaksin will do enough to placate the
anti-government camp or if his supporters will take out their anger and frustration on the streets.

Political observers worry if there is another outbreak of violence, then the rumours of another
real coup, might just pan out, despite the military's repeated denials.

This is Karen Percy in Bangkok reporting for The World Today.