Thaksin Shinawatra, a former Thai prime minister who faces a terrorism charge in Thailand, is unconcerned about a possible arrest during a planned visit to the U.S. next week, spokesman Noppadon Pattama said.
“We appreciate the risk but he decided to go” and testify before a U.S. government human rights commission, Noppadon said by phone today. “There shouldn’t be any problem.”
Thaksin has lived overseas since 2008, when he fled a two-year jail sentence in Thailand for abuse of power stemming from his five years as prime minister that ended when the military ousted him in 2006. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has sought his extradition.
The testimony before the committee of U.S. congressional representatives gives Thaksin a platform to explain protests from his supporters earlier this year that led to at least 89 deaths. Thailand’s government has charged him with terrorism for his role in supporting the protests.
“This is an independent U.S. entity, not part of the U.S. government as such,” Thani Thongpakdi, Thai foreign ministry spokesman, said by phone. “We’re confident that the U.S. will understand what happened at the time.”
Thaksin plans to present evidence to the commission about human rights violations during the protests and detail his views on reconciliation, Noppadon said.
“We hope that with fuller evidence and details given by our side, U.S. congressmen and Senators will know the truth and understand the present political situation better,” he said. “We hope that we would gain some support and sympathy.”
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, encourages compliance with commitments of the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The commission consists of nine Senators, nine members of the House of Representatives, and officials from the departments of State, Defense and Commerce, according to its website.
Last month, Thailand extradited accused Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to the U.S. after a two-year legal battle.