BANGKOK: Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is facing numerous corruption and power abuse charges here, is seeking political asylum in Britain.
In a statement issued to the government-owned NBT television channel, Thaksin said he was leaving for London where he has a home because Thailand's justice system was not being fair to him and "practised double standards."
Thaksin, who was ousted by the military in a coup on Sept 19 2006 after five years in office, also said that his life was in danger, adding that he had to use a bulletproof car while travelling in the country.
The policeman-turned-telecommunication billionaire was supposed to testify at the Supreme Court on Monday in connection with a 772mil-baht (about RM76mil) land purchase at Rachadaphisek Road here six years ago.
And current events at the club get even more bizarre.
Not a surprise that he wound up in London given the reports late last night that he failed to catch his flight back from China to Thailand to ensure he could testify in court this morning, and effectively Thaksin (and his wife who has already been found guilty of course) is now on the run given that an arrest warrant has been issued.
"What happened to me and my family and my close relations resulted from efforts to get rid of me from politics," Mr Thaksin said in the hand-written statement.
"These are my political enemies. They don't care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process."
There was no mention in the statement that he would seek asylum here in the UK, but it would certainly be an interesting move if he did apply for asylum - one which I'm sure the Government hopes is not forthcoming.
Not being familiar with the Thai political and judiciary set up, I don't know if Thaksin and his wife can be tried in abstentia. Even if he isn't, what the Premier League will make of the whole situation from the perspective of him being a 'fit and proper' person will also be worth keeping an eye on, given that they now have an owner of one of the clubs under their umbrella who could be classed as a fugitive.
A headache that I'm certain they could do without, but one I'm sure that they have to address and my view is that despite being back in the UK in close proximity of the club, Thaksin is unlikely to adopt a high profile or appear to have much of an active interest in the day to day running of the club as he tries to decide upon his next move, given that it appears his opponents will not be content to adopt the 'out of sight, out of mind' view I'm sure he is hoping for.