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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 08:25 GMT
Wife of ousted Thai PM on trial
Pojamarn Shinawatra (L) arrives at court with daughter Pinthongta
Pojamarn Shinawatra (L) is seen as the ex-PM's closest confidante
The wife of ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra has pleaded not guilty to corruption in a Bangkok court.

Pojamarn Shinawatra and her husband both face charges relating to two separate financial cases.

The pair went into exile overseas after the military seized power in 2006, accusing Mr Thaksin of corruption.

But Pojamarn Shinawatra returned to Thailand earlier this month, after a party loyal to her husband won the most votes in December's elections.

The People Power Party (PPP) won 233 of the 480 seats in the polls, which are set to return Thailand to democracy.

The PPP has now formed a governing coalition with five smaller parties and is preparing to announce its cabinet line-up.

'Testing the water'

Pojamarn Shinawatra made a brief appearance at the Supreme Court in the capital, Bangkok.

A judge granted her 90 days to prepare her defence and scheduled the next hearing for 29 April.

She and her husband face charges linked to alleged violation of stock-trading laws and a land sale.

The couple deny any wrongdoing and say the charges - the result of an investigation by a military-backed panel - are politically motivated.

Correspondents say Pojamarn Shinawatra's return is to test the water for her billionaire husband's possible homecoming.

According to a court statement, Mr Thaksin plans to return to Thailand in May.

The ousted prime minister is still very popular in much of the country and his political fortunes received a huge boost from the PPP victory, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

The powerful military and royalist cliques behind the coup are relying on the courts and a new constitution to prevent Mr Thaksin and his allies from wielding the kind of unchallenged power they enjoyed when last in office.

Once in government, the PPP has pledged to try to revise this new constitution.

There are likely to be several more battles in the year ahead, inside the courts, in parliament and outside, between these two irreconcilable political forces, our correspondent says.





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