Thaksin asked to face charges

HONG KONG: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday called on ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to return home to face corruption charges, but ruled out the possibility of granting him amnesty.

Abhisit, who visited Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests by Thaksin's supporters in Thailand, said he should face the consequences.

"He can expect justice from Thailand. He must accept the consequence of his actions," he said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) in Hong Kong, the same venue Thaksin was due to speak at in early March.

The premier said his government would consider granting amnesty to members of the opposition parties as part of the reconciliation process to restore order for his country, but stressed that Thaksin would not be among them.

"We are talking about amnesty for what would be political violations. We are not interested in granting amnesty for criminal offences," he said.

"(Thaksin)'s been convicted. He's violated the law. He must accept responsibilities."

In March, Thaksin cancelled his trip to Hong Kong following pressure from the Thai government on Beijing. He eventually spoke at the FCC via videolink a few days later.

In April Thailand issued a warrant for the former premier's arrest accusing him of inciting violence, following the storming of an Asian summit by his supporters and subsequent riots in Bangkok which left two people dead.

Abhisit, who met with the Hong Kong's chief executive Donald Tsang Friday, said the two sides were working on an agreement to help extradite Thaksin should he touch foot on the territory again.

He said Tsang was "working on it and I hope to see a quick conclusion".

Thaksin remains a deeply divisive figure in Thailand; he enjoys wide support from the country's largely rural poor but is a hate figure for powerful Bangkok-based cliques in the palace, military and bureaucracy.