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Politics

Thaksin Shinawatra breaks silence after 2 years

Former Thai PM tweets against tyranny dressed up as justice

BANGKOK -- Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, has broken a two-year silence to criticize the present military government after his youngest sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, is believed to have followed him into exile last week.

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice," he posted on Twitter, quoting Charles de Montesquieu, an 18th century French philosopher in both English and Thai.

Thaksin has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape a criminal conviction that he has always said was politically motivated.

Yingluck failed to show up at the Supreme Court on Friday to hear the verdict at the conclusion of her trial for negligent oversight of a controversial rice-subsidy scheme that allegedly lost 500 billion baht ($15 billion) of public money.

Pheu Thai Party sources said privately that the two former prime ministers are in Dubai, where Thaksin has based himself in exile, but the party made no reference in a statement on Tuesday to Yingluck's departure -- only that the party would "overcome" any obstacles to achieving democracy.

The reading of the verdict has been postponed to Sept. 27. If found guilty, Yingluck could be sentenced to up to 10 years, but with a right of appeal. Among six heavy sentences handed down by the court on Friday, Boonsong Teriyapirom, commerce minister in the Yingluck cabinet, received 42 years, while his deputy Phumi Saraphol was given 36 years.

Pheu Thai supporters rallied on Twitter behind their exiled leaders: "I understand the pain that both of you are facing," said one. Another said the Shinawatra family should not be "deleted" from people's hearts. A third called on people to "build up justice" by themselves.

Proving the Shinawatra family's divisiveness, one of their critics tweeted that the family viewed beneficial rulings as just, and those they lost as unjust.

Three Thaksin-backed Pheu Thai prime ministers have been removed from office by the Constitutional Court in the past nine years: Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat, both in 2008; and Yingluck on May 7, 2014, shortly before the last coup.

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