Thailand's fugitive former prime minister has dismissed a government warrant for his arrest as "politically motivated" and expressed confidence that international police agency Interpol would not carry it out.
"Interpol have their own criteria to judge, that is, to not be politically motivated. This is clearly politically motivated and there is no ground," Thaksin Shinawatra told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) by phone on Wednesday.
The Thai Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday against Thaksin on terrorism charges that accuse him of a role in fomenting two months of anti-government unrest by so-called red shirt protesters in Bangkok that left more than 80 people dead.
Thailand issued the charges - which carry the death penalty – a day after the department of special investigations alleged that Thaksin committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorist acts.
Thaksin, 60, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup after winning two national elections by huge margins, said the burning of buildings in the aftermath of last week's military crackdown on the red shirts - many of whom are his supporters - was a "set up".
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"The big fire ... must be the work of [a] professional. As an ex-police [officer], I can assure you that this is a well planned and professionally done," he said, adding that it was "definitely" not the work of red shirts.
Thaksin said he did not know if the red shirt rebellion was over, but said he had never supported violence.
"In my mind, I always advocate ... peaceful protest," he told ABC.
Speaking separately to Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, again by phone and from an undisclosed location, he said reconciliation in his home country was "very far away".
He said he was "ready to compromise", but charged that the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister, was more interested in persecuting its political opponents than in bringing the deadly political crisis to a close.
"Those [red shirts] who survived are very angry. It's not a good sign. I am very worried... I worry about the anger and I worry the government has cornered them instead of talking to them," he said.
He accused the government - which he repeatedly described as a "junta" - of hunting down his supporters and detaining them without charge even after they had ceased their protest and returned home.
"The government uses the word reconciliation, then creates more conflict," he said.
In Bangkok, which remains under nightly curfews as part of efforts to prevent fresh violence, Thaksin's lawyers filed an appeal on Wednesday against the terrorism warrant, saying red shirt leaders would testify that he never encouraged violence.
Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand's finance minister, said the government was considering suing Thaksin and other red shirt supporters to recover some of the $3bn the country's economy is estimated to have lost due to the protests, which paralysed Bangkok's prime commercial district for weeks.
Despite having been convicted in absentia on corruption charges two years ago, Thaksin continues to move around the world relatively freely.
He has reportedly spent a lot of time in Dubai, but has taken up citizenship in Montenegro and reportedly also has a Nicaraguan passport.
Thaksin would only tell the Globe and Mail on Wednesday that he was "in Europe" and would not return to Thailand unless the political situation changed significantly.
"During my premiership, they tried to assassinate me four times," he told the Canadian paper. "If I go back now, they will definitely try to assassinate me. All my supporters say, 'Please, don't come back now. They will kill you'."