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BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai court postponed on Wednesday a ruling on corruption charges against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife and issued new arrest warrants for the two, who are in exile in London.Thaksin and Potjaman Shinawatra have denied any wrongdoing in a Bangkok land deal probed by graft investigators appointed after Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup. "The two defendants did not show up to hear the verdict today. Therefore the court has postponed its ruling and issued arrest warrants," Judge Thonglor Chomngam told the court. A new court date was set for October 21. The couple were charged in relation to Potjaman's purchase of a piece of state land for a knock-down price while Thaksin was in office, in contravention of laws against relatives of political leaders striking such deals. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in jail. In justifying their decision to jump bail last month, Thaksin said political enemies who engineered his removal in the coup were meddling in the courts, making it impossible for him to receive a fair hearing.
Lawyers for the couple had argued the case should be dropped since they were no longer in the country, but the Supreme Court allowed it to proceed.Thaksin was removed from power largely on allegations of rampant corruption during his five years in power. He has since had nearly $2 billion of his family assets frozen in Thai bank accounts. In July, Potjaman, a major force in Thaksin's political and business empire, was sentenced to three years in jail after a court found her guilty of tax fraud. (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Ed Cropley and Jerry Norton)
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