Friday, July 10, 2009
Fugitive Thai leader seeks Pacific haven
There's been no reported sightings yet of the fugitive Thai leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is said to have headed to Port Vila, where the Melanesian leaders have been meeting.
Shinawatra was this week in Fiji and Tonga, amid speculation he's seeking safety in a country with no extradition treaty with Thailand.
Thaksin, whose Thai passport has been cancelled, is wanted in Bangkok on corruption charges.
He flew into Suva in his Learjet for a secret meeting with prime minister and military commander Frank Bainimarama on Monday.
The meeting - held in Bainimarama's office - was confirmed by Major Neumi Leweni, who said a business prosposal was discussed at lunch.
It's understood the Thai leader wants to invest $300million in Fiji.
In return, it's expected he'd be assured safety from extradition - authorities in Thailand are trying to get him back to Bangkok, where he faces two years in jail for abuse of power.
The newspaper, The Australian, reported this week that Thaksin used an assumed name to get into Fiji, although his true identity was known to the authorities, and that his visit was approved in advance.
The paper says he is using a passportissued by Montenegro.
An official in Tonga also confirmed Thaksin visited Nukualofa last week.
On leaving, he was said to be heading to Vanuatu, where the annual meeting of the heads of the Melanesian Spearhead Group of countries is being held in Port Vila.