There are, however, some people who support
Thaksin in Thailand [Reuters]

Thaksin Shinawatra, the exiled Thai prime minister, has been called unfit to own English football club Manchester City by rights-based group, Human Rights Watch.

The group have said that serious human rights abuses occured in Thailand under his leadership.

In a July 30 letter to the English Football Association, the group said numerous extrajudicial executions, abductions and disappearances occurred during Thaksin's six years reign, which ended with a military coup in September 2006.

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the English Premier League, said they have taken such allegations very seriously.

But he also said the Premier League policy was to only bar those who had been convicted of offences from ownership.

"You can be assured that we will always operate within the law and will always take into account any evidence as verified by the appropriate legal process," Scudamore said.

Prior to the coup, which was Thailand’s 18th in the last 75 years, his opponents cited "rampant corruption" as the main reason behind the uprising.

One year later, Thaksin has had more than $1.5 billion assets frozen in Thai bank accounts and he has been summonsed to Bangkok's Supreme Court this month to hear corruption charges.

Many commentators believe a conviction, however, is at least two years away.

Thaksin secured control of Manchester City in August, when he took ownership of 75 per cent of the shares in the club.

The majority of Human Rights Watch's concerns stem from the 2003 Thai "war on drugs" in which the group claims around 2,500 people were killed, and the heavy-handed approach Thai security forces took in battling separatism in the Muslim-majority far south.

The former prime minister, now based in London, has said his $163.8 million takeover would help improve Thai football while also returning City to their former glories.

Three Thai international players have secured trials at Manchester City at Thaksin's request, according to newspaper reports.

The Football Association of Thailand has picked centre-back Kiatprawut Saiwaew, right-back Suree Sukha and striker Teerasil Dangda to try-out at the Premiership club, the Bangkok Post reported.

One of the lucky players will allegedly be awarded a contract, although Thaksin has said he expects manager Sven Goran Eriksson to sign at least two players.

Source: Agencies