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Thaksin taken into police custody

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  • NEW: Thaksin arrives in Thailand
  • Pro-Thaksin Web site urges his supporters to greet him at Bangkok airport
  • Expected to report to the country's Supreme Court on arrival
  • Thaksin faces charges of corruption and abuse of power
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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was taken into police custody Thursday after arriving on Thai soil and ending 17 months of exile to face corruption charges, police said.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrives at Hong Kong International Airport earlier Thursday.

Thai authorities took the 58-year-old billionaire politician into custody after his arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, said police Maj. Gen. Thaweesak Toochinda, the head of airport immigration police.

Two arrest warrants were issued for Thaksin after the September 2006 coup that ousted him. He faces corruption charges in two separate cases that date to his time in office from 2001-2006 and could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison.

His return to Thailand to fight charges of corruption and abuse of power ends 17 months of self-imposed exile Thursday, returning to Thailand to fight charges of corruption and abuse of power.

Upon touchdown from Hong Kong, he was expected to report to the country's Supreme Court.

A pro-Thaksin Web site on Tuesday urged supporters to greet the former prime minister at the airport at 9 a.m. local time (0200 GMT), and thousands were expected to congregate.

The People's Alliance for Democracy, which in the past has staged numerous demonstrations denouncing Thaksin's rule, told CNN on Tuesday that it did not have any plans to protest on Thursday.

If that decision stands, it will null the possibility of clashes between the two camps on Thursday. Video Watch what can be expected on Thaksin's return »

In December's parliamentary elections, Thaksin's allies, the People Power Party, won nearly half the seats in the lower house and paved the way for his return.

The 58-year-old billionaire is accused of abusing the country's system of checks and balances and bending government policy to benefit his family's business.

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Thaksin and his wife Pojamarn face charges stemming from a Bangkok land deal and an alleged stock concealment plan. In the real estate transaction, the wife is accused of purchasing undeveloped land for about a third of its estimated value.

She has pleaded not guilty and is free on five million baht (about $168,000) bail and is under orders not to leave the country.

Thaksin faces separate charges of concealing assets.

Thaksin also owns the English Premier League Manchester City Football Club.


His party won two landslide victories before he was deposed in a bloodless military coup in September 2006 while traveling abroad. He has never returned to Thailand since.

Thaksin has said he would not re-enter politics when he comes home. He said that he and his family had "suffered enough" but that he wanted to face the charges against him and prove his innocence. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Kochakorn Olarn contributed to this report.

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