Exiled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison by the Thai Supreme Court.
In a landmark ruling, he was found to have violated conflict of interest rules in helping his wife buy land from a state agency at a knock-down price.
The couple fled to the UK in August, saying they would not get a fair trial.
The decision comes amid growing tension between the former leader’s supporters and his opponents.
The ruling is the first in a string of stalled and slow-moving cases against Thaksin, former owner and now honorary chairman of Manchester City Football Club, launched in the wake of the 2006 military coup.
The coup leaders claimed there had been massive corruption and abuse of power under Thaksin’s rule, and set up a special unit to investigate the business dealings of the former leader and his close associates.
His wife has already been convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail but was acquitted by the Supreme Court in the current case.
The nine-member court ruled by five to four that Thaksin had violated the constitution in involving himself in the land deal.
“Thaksin had violated the article of the constitution on conflict of interest, as he was then prime minister and head of government who was supposed to work for the benefit of the public,” one judge said as he read the verdict.
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