Hand-over of Briton held in Thailand, wanted by the Arab state, ruled out
Thailand may be unable to trade fugitive ex-premier Shinawatra Thaksin with a British man wanted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for embezzlement, a senior Foreign Ministry official said yesterday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Jarungwat said prisoner exchanges could be done on a reciprocal basis between countries which had no extradition treaties given that the prisoners were serving jail terms on similar offences.
Yet he said the principle was unlikely to be applied regarding an exchange of Thaksin and Briton Michael Bryan Smith, who was arrested recently in Bangkok for allegedly embezzling US$154 million (Bt5.3 billion) from a Dubai company. The Briton is being held at the Criminal Court pending extradition.
Thaksin, who is believed to be in the UAE city of Dubai, is wanted in Thailand to serve a two-year term in a corruption case involving the Ratchadaphisek land scandal.
Tharit said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier submitted an extradition request to the UAE through diplomatic channels to facilitate forced repatriation of Thaksin.
Meanwhile, Panit Vikitset, vice minister for foreign affairs, said yesterday that the UAE authorities had promised to ensure that Thaksin would not use the Middle East state as his base for political activities against Thailand.
He said Thaksin was residing in the UAE as a businessman.
In a related development Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin’s former legal adviser, yesterday dismissed as untrue media reports that the ex-premier had asked the UAE to broker sending him to fight court cases in Thailand.
Noppadon said the Thai government was trying to extradite Thaksin and had sent Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot to convince the UAE not to shelter the fugitive. But the UAE is a sovereign government, and Thailand must respect its decision, he said.
“The UAE is aware that Thaksin was toppled from power in a |military coup, which is against democratic principles,” Noppadon said.
Thai Police Nab Briton Over Dubai Fraud
Thai police have arrested a Briton in Bangkok’s red light district after he spent eight months on the run for allegedly embezzling $150m (£96m) from a company in Dubai.
Michael Bryan Smith, 43, was caught in the capital’s notorious Nana area on Wednesday night.
His arrest came after authorities in the United Arab Emirates sought Thailand‘s assistance.
Smith allegedly siphoned off other workers’ salaries into his own bank account while working as a personnel manager at a Dubai property company, Thai police said.
The UAE had asked Thai police to help them arrest the Londoner after he fled the country.
Officers said Smith, who is married to a Thai woman, had travelled extensively through Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand after fleeing Dubai.
“He did not resist arrest. We will start his extradition process as soon as possible,” Police Colonel Somprasong Yen-tuam said.
Smith has apparently denied all charges and his case will be handed to the Attorney General’s Office for extradition to face charges in the UAE.
Under Thai law, the court decides if a foreign national should be extradited to face trial in the requesting country.
Sky News, 21 May 2009