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Former Thai PM Thaksin to be charged with royal insult - attorney general

By Aukkarapon Niyomyat

BANGKOK, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Thailand's ousted former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be charged with royal insult
and computer crimes, the junta's attorney general said on
Friday, a day after a court issued a second arrest warrant for
his sister.

Thaksin, whose populist movement's struggle with the Thai
establishment has dominated politics for over a decade, lives in
exile after fleeing Thailand to escape a jail sentence for
corruption after he was overthrown in a 2006 coup.

His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, overthrown as prime
minister in 2014, fled Thailand in August to avoid conviction in
a criminal negligence case she said was politically motivated.
She was jailed for five years in absentia.

Attorney General Khemchai Chutiwong did not give details as
to exactly how Thaksin had insulted the monarchy, which is
protected by a stringent lese majeste law.

"This is a criminal case," he told a news conference. "Right
now it remains to find the individual."

Supporters of the Shinawatras, who had the backing of poor,
rural voters, have won every election since 2001. They remain a
significant force ahead of a ballot the military has said could
happen as early as next year.

It was not clear whether the attorney general's office was
referring to accusations of royal defamation against Thaksin
that Thai police said they were investigating after he gave an
interview to South Korean media in 2015.

Reuters was unable to immediately contact Thaksin or his
lawyers for comment.

Republishing details of an alleged offence to the monarchy
could also be a crime under a law that sets a sentence of up to
15 years for each offence of royal insult.

Since taking power in a 2014 coup, the military government
has pursued supporters of the Shinawatras and has jailed several
leaders of the red-shirted political movement that backed them.

A criminal court issued a second arrest warrant for Yingluck
on Thursday for violating immigration law during her escape.

Thaksin's son, Panthongtae Shinawatra, has also complained
of victimisation and this week called for the dropping of a
money-laundering investigation against him.

Thaksin has a home in Dubai but travels frequently. His Thai
passports were revoked after the interview he gave in 2015 but
he holds the passport of at least one other country.
(Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat
Thepgumpanat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Matthew
Tostevin and Nick Macfie)

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