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Thai PM faces long probe due to short message services

07-16-2010 16:23 BJT

BANGKOK, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's National Anti- Corruption Commission (NACC) decided Friday to continue its investigation over the short message services (SMS) case against the prime minister and finance minister before it will rule on whether there's sufficient grounds to suspect their guilt.

Based on the preliminary report, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij formulated a policy to communicate with the people before the royal appointment of the prime minister on Dec. 17, 2008, NACC member Klanarong Chantik said on Friday.

The commission was expected to announce Friday morning whether it pursues or drops the case, in which Abhisit and Korn were accused of misusing mobile-phone SMS in December 2008 to receive assets.

Under the anti-graft law, Korn and Abhisit will have to suspend their duties if the NACC proceeds with the case and decides on the sufficient cause to suspect their guilt, paving way for the impeachment proceedings. After that the Supreme Court for political postholders will take on the case to give the final verdict.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party earlier filed a complaint to the commission and sought removal of Abhisit and Korn for asking three major mobile phone operators to send text messages to 17 million domestic cellphones users and therefore receiving assets worth more than 3,000 baht (about 93 U.S. dollars).

Ruangkrai Leekit-wattana, a Senator from Pheu Thai Party who filed the accusation, said that the cost of sending SMS to such a large amount of subscribers definitely surpassed 3,000 baht, and that both Abhisit and Korn should be fully aware of it.

According to The Nation online, the message sent one day after Abhisit took office said "This is your new prime minister, may I ask you to help bring our country out of crisis. If you are interested in receiving further messages from me, please (reply) to 9191 (3 baht per message)."

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