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Ousted Thai PM Thaksin guilty of corruption

  • Story Highlights
  • Ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra convicted of corruption, sentenced to jail
  • Court rules Thaksin facilitated wife's purchase of Bangkok real estate in 2003
  • Thaksin, who lives in exile in UK, unlikely to serve time in jail
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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- A Thai court has found deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra guilty of corruption, and sentenced him in absentia to two years imprisonment.

Thaksin Shinawatra lives in self-imposed exile in London.

Thaksin Shinawatra lives in self-imposed exile in London.

The case stemmed from a Bangkok land deal while Thaksin was in office. He was convicted of violating a law that bans ministers or their wives from conducting business with government agencies.

Thaksin, who now lives in the United Kingdom, is unlikely to serve any jail time. He fled from Thailand in August just as he was to appear in court.

In the land deal, Thaksin's wife, Pojama, is accused of using her husband's political influence to buy undeveloped land from a government agency for about a third of its estimated value. Video Watch more about the verdict »

The case is one of several corruption cases against Thaksin and his family that are winding their way through the legal system.

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

Thaksin has consistently denied that he or his family was involved in any wrongdoing.

In August, Thaksin and his wife skipped a court appearance and fled to the United Kingdom rather than testify in the real-estate case. He said he did so because he did not think he would get a fair trial in Thailand.

Thaksin, a telecommunications tycoon, once owned the English Premier League Manchester City Football Club but sold his stake this year.

His party won two landslide victories before he was deposed in a bloodless military coup in September 2006 after massive anti-government street protests.

He returned to Thailand after his allies in the People Power Party won nearly half the seats in the lower house in December's parliamentary elections and formed the ruling coalition.

In recent weeks, the country has seen daily demonstrations from anti-government protesters who want PPP leaders purged from the Cabinet. They have laid siege to the Government House -- the seat of the Thai government -- since August 26.

The protesters -- led by the People's Alliance for Democracy -- contend that the PPP is trying to amend the constitution so Thaksin does not have to face charges.

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In September, Thailand's Constitutional Court stripped then-Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of his position, ruling that he had violated the constitution by appearing as a paid guest on a television cooking show.

The PPP responded by picking Thaksin's brother-in-law as Samak's replacement -- further inflaming the protesters.

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this report.

All About ThailandThai PoliticsThaksin Shinawatra

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