The judiciary and political bias

13 11 2009

The Nation (13 November 2009: “AEC member testifies in Thaksin’s assets case”) has a neat story on the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders that bears somewhat on the comments by Cambodia’s Hun Sen on Thailand’s politically-driven justice system (and see here as well).

Here PPT isn’t commenting on the case against Thaksin or the machinations that took place over the alleged movement of assets and the sale of assets.

Kaewsun Atibhodhi, a member of the now “defunct Assets Examination Committee (AEC), testified yesterday as a prosecution witness before the Supreme Court in the case in which fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra is accused of being unusually wealthy.” The AEC was unable to present all its findings before it was dissolved, although it was feted by the military and 2006 coup leaders.

Thaksin’s lawyers asked about Kaewsun’s membership of the AEC and “questioned [this] because he had earlier written a book critical of Thaksin.” In other words, the lawyers are raising the possibility that  Kaewsun and the military-appointed AEC was politically biased and tainted by their membership of anti-Thaksin movements.

Kaewsun replied that “he made the criticism sincerely due to Thaksin’s action and that he had no personal grudge against him.”

It is reported that Thaksin’s lawyers “were told by the court not to repeat their questions too often. They said they did that because they could not understand Kaewsun’s answers. The court told them his answers were well understood by judges and that the lawyers might have to look at themselves for failing to understand.”

Readers may recall that before the coup in 2006 – a very heady time – Kaewsun was reported to have compared Thaksin to a hijacker and a rapist. For a Thai-language flavor of Kaewsun’s criticisms see here. He spoke at PAD rallies.

Obviously the case has some way to go and one witness with an axe to grind does not make a case, but the court itself needs to avoid being seen as biased.



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