Former Thai Prime Minister's Wife, Brother Sentenced to 3 Years in PrisonBy VOA News
31 July 2008

Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (2nd-R) and his wife Pojaman leave court in Bangkok, 31 Jul 2008The wife of deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion.

Thailand's Criminal Court issued the sentence Thursday against Pojaman Shinawatra and her brother, Bannapot Damapong, for colluding to evade paying more than $16 million in taxes in the transfer of shares in a telecommunications firm founded by Mr. Thaksin.

The court denounced Pojaman for her actions, saying as the wife of the prime minister she was expected to be a good role model.

Her secretary was sentenced to two years in prison.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, the three were released on $149,000 bail. A Thaksin spokesman says lawyers will file an appeal in the case.

The sentence is the first in a handful of corruption cases brought against Mr. Thaksin stemming from his tenure as prime minister. He was overthrown in 2006 by the military, which then set up a committee to investigate accusations of abuse of power and wrongdoing.

Mr. Thaksin returned to Thailand this year after his political ally Samak Sundaravej was elected prime minister. Mr. Samak formed a six-party coalition government dominated by Thaksin supporters.

Mr. Thaksin's opponents have held street rallies against the Samak government in recent weeks. To try to ease the pressure from his opponents, Prime Minister Samak plans to reshuffle his cabinet in the coming days.

voa news