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hailand's Supreme Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on corruption charges.

The ruling came after Mr Thaksin and his wife failed to attend court in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The court was to hear the first of a series of cases being brought against the former leader, who was ousted in a military coup last year.

Since then he has been living in the UK and recently bought Manchester City FC.

Mr Thaksin had been ordered to appear at the hearing to listen to charges that he abused his power while in office, by helping his wife buy land from a state agency at a favourable price.

He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated.

Telecoms tycoon

His lawyers had asked for the case against him to be postponed until after general elections promised for December, arguing that he would not get a fair trial.

But the court's nine-member panel ordered that he appear in time for a new hearing on 25 September.

"The court has approved arrest warrants against the two suspects," Judge Tonglor Chomngarm said. "Both should be brought before the court."

Thailand's attorney-general and the prosecution have indicated that they could seek Mr Thaksin's extradition from the UK if he does not turn up at the next hearing.

The two countries have a long-standing extradition treaty, although each case is decided on its merits, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Bangkok.

A special committee is currently investigating another 12 cases of alleged corruption during Mr Thaksin's administration, our correspondent adds.

Prosecutors argue that Mr Thaksin, already a wealthy telecoms tycoon when he first took office, became abnormally rich while prime minister. He denies this, saying the value of his family's company increased in line with other businesses in Thailand.

If Mr Thaksin were to be convicted, our correspondent says, that could pose a problem for the English Premier League, as he might - as the new owner of Manchester City football club - be in breach of the League's rules.

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