Saturday, July 16, 2011

German court begins hearings on royal jet

A German court has begun hearings on the Thai government's request for the release of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's plane impounded at Munich airport by German liquidators since Tuesday.
Thai officials expected the court would make a decision Friday.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday that the German government could offer no comment on the affair "because we respect the independence of the judicial authorities" who are now responsible for the case.
The Boeing 737 on the tarmac at Munich.
But Germany's Foreign Ministry has expressed regret to the Crown Prince over the matter, British newspaper The Telegraph reported Friday.

"We regret the inconveniences for the Crown Prince resulting from the impounding."

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Friday said the government expected the court would rule in favour of Thailand as the aircraft seizure occurred out of a mistaken belief that the plane belonged to the Thai government.

The plane seizure was ordered by the German court on Monday after a request from Werner Schneider, the insolvency administrator for German builder Walter Bau AG, to force a 30 million euro (1.26 billion baht) payment from Thailand.

The action was based on a decision in 2009 of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for Thailand to pay Walter Bau more than 30 million euros for breaching a bilateral investment treaty between Germany and Thailand. The UN court found that the Thai government breached the terms of a toll road concession operated by a venture partly owned by Walter Bau.

Mr Schneider said the seizure followed repeated refusals by the Thai government to pay money it owes the company.

Mr Abhisit said the Office of the Attorney-General is in the process of appealing to the Southern District Court of New York, which last year ruled in favour of Walter Bau and ordered Thailand to pay compensation to the firm.

Mr Abhisit said the government will submit the appeal on July 29.

"Asset seizure is not necessary at all because in the end, Thailand would have to follow the court's final ruling. If the court orders us to pay [the compensation], we have to pay," Mr Abhisit said.

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