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Court Complaint Lodged Over Thai Lottery

  International  -   POSTED: 2008/03/11 08:45

An anti-corruption body set up to investigate the activities of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government filed a court complaint against him, his former Cabinet and other officials Monday alleging abuse of power in implementing a government lottery.

Among the 47 people named in the lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court are three members of the current Cabinet, according to Sitthichoke Sricharoen, a lawyer representing the Assets Examination Committee.

"It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to accept the case," Sitthichoke said.

The targets of the suit are accused of malfeasance for allegedly mismanaging and illegally spending money gained from the lottery scheme initiated by Thaksin's government.

The complaint alleged that irregularities in the scheme caused the state $1.17 billion in financial losses. It asked the Supreme Court to order the 47 people to pay the damages.

Thaksin's government launched the lottery in 2003, saying it would lure people away from the popular illegal underground lottery and also would generate revenue for education.

In addition to officials of the government lottery office, the suit targets Thaksin — who was toppled in a 2006 military coup and returned from exile last month to face other cases against him — and 29 members of his former Cabinet.

Three of those named in the suit are in the current government of Thaksin ally Samak Sundaravej.

The committee had previously submitted the case to the Attorney General's office, which had declined to prosecute it. This time it decided to submit the complaint directly to the Supreme Court's criminal division for political office holders, said Sitthichoke.

Rakkiat Pattanaphong, the division's secretary, said a panel of nine judges will take 30 days to deliberate whether to accept the case and order a trial.

The AEC was established right after the September 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin. There are several other corruption-related suits under way against Thaksin and his family, but none have yet come to trial.


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