World News

Montenegro says has given Thaksin citizenship

Former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra addresses the 2005 World Summit during the 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, September 16, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Segar

PODGORICA (Reuters) - Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has Montenegrin citizenship and arrived there earlier this week, officials in the Balkan country said on Wednesday, as thousands of his supporters protested in Bangkok.

A brief statement from Montenegrin national police said Thaksin arrived on a private plane from Dubai on March 13 at the Adriatic coastal airport of Tivat.

“Mr. Shinawatra is a Montenegrin citizen and is now located in Montenegro,” police spokeswoman Tamara Ralevic said in the statement. “Police authorities have no basis to take any action against Mr. Shinawatra.”

Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and was later sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for graft. He fled shortly before his sentence was given and lives mostly in Dubai.

Local media have previously reported Thaksin had a Montenegrin passport but the government has yet to explain why the country of 670,000 people granted him citizenship.

Thaksin was seen on the Montenegrin coast earlier this week.

The police statement Wednesday was the first confirmation of his presence by the authorities.

Reporting by Petar Komnenic; Writing by Adam Tanner; Editing by Jackie Cowhig