Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra set to be released from prison

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Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is set to be released from prison following his arrest on corruption charges in August last year upon his return from self-imposed exile

Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra set to be released from prison

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was previously imprisoned, is set to be released, according to the kingdom’s justice minister. This could happen as early as the upcoming weekend, just six months after he returned from a 15-year self-imposed exile. 

The wealthy and controversial figure, who served as prime minister twice and was removed from power in a 2006 military coup, was initially sentenced to eight years in prison on corruption and abuse of power charges in August. However, shortly after, the king reduced his sentence to one year. 

Justice minister Tawee Sodsong announced on Tuesday that Thaksin, who is 74 years old and a former owner of Manchester City, will be among 930 prisoners granted early release. Sodsong stated that Thaksin falls into the category of those in critical condition or over the age of 70 and will be released automatically after six months. 

Thaksin's imprisonment began on Aug. 22 last year, and there are reports from Thai media that his release could occur as early as this Saturday. The specific terms of his release remain unclear, but it is possible that he will be subject to monitoring, potentially including an ankle tag, and face restrictions on his ability to travel. 

Upon his return, Thaksin's Pheu Thai party reentered the government in collaboration with pro-military parties, leading to speculation that an agreement had been reached to reduce his jail time. This speculation intensified when he was swiftly transferred to a police hospital due to poor health after being sentenced. It is uncertain whether he has spent any time in a traditional prison cell. 

Local media reported that Thaksin experienced chest tightness and high blood pressure upon his admission to the hospital and underwent two operations in the subsequent months, as indicated by his family. 

As a former telecommunications magnate, Thaksin holds significant influence but also provokes strong divisions in modern Thai history. While he is adored by millions of rural Thais for his popular policies in the early 2000s, he is despised by the country's royalist and pro-military establishment. 

The power struggle between the establishment and Thaksin and his allies has heavily influenced Thai politics over the past two decades. When he arrived in Bangkok, his supporters greeted him as a hero, and his first public act was to pay homage to a portrait of the king at the airport. 

Recently, Thaksin was charged with lese-majesty for comments he made in South Korea almost a decade ago, though it remains uncertain whether prosecutors will pursue the case in court. Thaksin has denied the charge and has written to the attorney general seeking fair treatment. 


Source: AFP

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