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Deposed Thai PM's wife `staying to protect his millions'

Family members of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are still in Thailand amid speculation that they stayed behind to protect his vast assets against possible confiscation by the country's new military rulers.

A spokesman for the military ruling group said today that Thaksin's wife Pojamarn and two of his children remained in the capital Bangkok.

``They all have the basic right to stay and lead normal lives here. They are living in freedom and without any disturbance, control or restrictions,'' Lt Gen Palanggoon Klaharn told The Associated Press.

The Nation newspaper speculated today that Pojamarn, known to have wielded a powerful influence on her husband, stayed behind to protect some of the family fortune.

Thaksin remains in London with his third child, a daughter.

A source close to Thaksin's family said his son Phantongtae, 26, was still living in the family residence while his wife and the second daughter were at a ``safe house'' in an air force compound under the protection of Kongsak Watana, the former interior minister and onetime air force commander.

Telecoms tycoon-turned politician Thaksin built up a multi-million business empire over the past few decades and its fortunes soared during his five years in office, with critics accusing him of massive corruption.

The coup leaders got their first taste of popular dissent when about 100 protesters defied a ban on public gatherings yesterday to denounce the army's coup as undemocratic.


From Belfast Telegraph