Thailand's Constitutional Court has acquitted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of charges he concealed millions of dollars in assets. The ruling ended months of political uncertainty that gripped the nation.
Thailand's Constitutional Court found Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra not guilty of concealing his wealth while serving in a previous administration. The narrow eight-to-seven judgment by the 15-member court allows Mr. Thaksin to continue serving as prime minister. Had he been found guilty, Mr. Thaksin would have been required to step down. In addition, he would have been banned from politics for five years.
The chief judge of the court, Prasert Nasakul, said the court made its decision according to the constitutional law and without personal feeling.
The case started in December after Thailand's corruption commission indicted Mr. Thaksin on charges he transferred millions of dollars of shares in family-owned companies to relatives and employees to avoid disclosing his true financial worth. Mr. Thaksin had denied any wrongdoing, saying his failure to declare the assets worth millions of dollars was the result of an honest mistake. The court decision triggered a rally on the Thai stock market Friday. The Thai composite index jumped four percent on hopes of political stability. Mr. Thaksin is Thailand's wealthiest man after making his fortune in the telecommunications sector.
In 1998, he established the Thai Rak Thai Party, and was swept to power in January on a range of popular policies. He has promised to revive the economy, which has yet to fully recover from the Asian economic crisis in 1997.