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Thailand trys to lift Impounding of Prince’s Jet

A Boeing 737 of the Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn stands on the premises of the airport Munich, southern Germany, on July 13, 2011. An aircraft used by the Thai crown prince has been impounded in Germany over a dispute over money between Bangkok and an insolvent construction firm, Munich airport said on July 13, 2011.

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Thailand will make all efforts to release a Thai national’s Boeing 737 impounded in Germany due to a payment conflict between the government and a German construction firm, outgoing Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday.

“Germany made the great mistake of confiscating property that does not belong to the Thai government,” Kasit told reporters yesterday.

After learning that the aircraft had been impounded, Thai Ambassador to Germany Charivat Santaputra quickly contacted the German Foreign Ministry to explain its legal status, he said.

Kasit himself flew to Germany last night to negotiate with the authorities in Munich and Berlin to release the aircraft.

The Thai authorities have explained the situation and submitted all relevant documents to Germany to prove the legal status of the aircraft, he said.

“I made it clear that this matter has nothing to do with the royal court,” he said. “It is a huge mistake for Germany to do this and we will not allow this issue to jeopardise relations between the two countries.”

The Boeing 737 “has been sealed, the doors are not allowed to be opened and it is banned from taking off”, airport spokesman Robert Wilhelm told Agence France-Presse.

Werner Schneider, insolvency administrator for the firm at the centre of the affair, Walter Bau, said the seizure late on Tuesday followed repeated refusals by the Thai government to pay back alleged debts.

“We have been trying for years… to have our justified demands for more than ยค30 million [Bt1.3 billion] met, and this drastic measure is basically the last resort,” Schneider’s company said in a statement.

The dispute goes back more than 20 years to the involvement of Dywidag, which merged

with Walter Bau in 2001, in building the Don Muang Tollway, a motorway link between Bangkok and Don Muang Airport.

“The Thai government keeps playing for time and has not reacted to Schneider’s demands. Even the involvement of the relevant departments of the German government proved fruitless,” said Schneider.

Kasit said he had placed Schneider on the “persona non grata” list banning him from entering Thailand.

Reporting by Vithoon Amorn

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