Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 10:53 UK

Embattled Thaksin faces new trial

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

 Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (file image)
Mr Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006

Thailand's Supreme Court has agreed to try another case against Thaksin Shinawatra for allegedly abusing his power during his five years in office.

The new charge against the former prime minister concerns the introduction of a government lottery scheme in 2003.

He is already on trial on charges that he helped his wife buy government land, and other cases are pending.

Thailand's courts have been unusually active in pursuing cases against the government, led by Mr Thaksin's allies.

Legal barrage

An anti-government protester walks past a poster depicting ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra behind bars outside Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on 3 July
A powerful lobby inside Thailand wants to see Mr Thaksin behind bars
Three politicians have already lost their jobs, and they are unlikely to be the last.

This latest charge could force the suspension of three more cabinet ministers, as they are also implicated along with Mr Thaksin.

These cases are likely to tie the former prime minister up for many months.

They could well end in a conviction, and a possible prison sentence - results Mr Thaksin clearly did not anticipate when he made a triumphant return from exile in March.

In a country where in the past political figures have frequently escaped prosecution, the barrage of legal cases against Mr Thaksin and his allies is being interpreted by some as an attempt to cripple the government by the influential royalist elite, which has strong ties to the upper echelons of the judiciary.

Others argue that this is simply a welcome application of the rule of law to everyone in Thailand, however powerful they may be.

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