Thai King reduces former PM Thaksin’s eight-year jail sentence to one year, Latest World News - The New Paper

Thai King reduces former PM Thaksin’s eight-year jail sentence to one year

BANGKOK – Thailand’s King has commuted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s eight-year prison sentence to one year, the royal gazette said on Friday, a day after the billionaire submitted a request for pardon.

The 74-year-old billionaire, arguably Thailand’s most famous politician, began serving his prison sentence after he returned last week in a vaunted homecoming from 15 years of self-imposed exile.

He arrived on a private jet and was transferred to prison to serve an eight-year sentence on charges of abuse of power and conflicts of interest from during his time in power.

On the first night, he was moved to a police hospital over chest pains and high blood pressure.

On Thursday, he submitted a request for a royal pardon.

Thaksin “was a prime minister, has done good for the country and people and is loyal to the monarchy”, the royal gazette said on Friday.

“He respected the process, admitted his guilt, repented, accepted court verdicts. Right now, he is old, has illness that needs care from medical professionals,” it read.

Thaksin is one of the most influential, but divisive, figures in modern Thai history.

Despite being away for 15 years, parties loyal to him won every election since 2001 until this year.

Loved by millions of rural Thais for his populist policies in the early 2000s, he is reviled by the country’s royalist and pro-military establishment, which has spent much of the past two decades trying to keep him and his allies out of power.

His return overshadowed a vote in Parliament that installed political ally, Mr Srettha Thavisin of the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai Party, as prime minister.

Mr Srettha, a real estate tycoon, received support from pro-military and conservative parties connected to the same generals who ousted Thaksin’s governments in 2006 and 2014.

Thaksin’s return and time in hospital have fuelled speculation that he has struck a deal with those very rivals among the country’s powerful generals and conservative old money elites – something he and the Pheu Thai Party deny.

He remains hospitalised, with the authorities citing the need for specialists and advanced medical equipment for his treatment.

“It is His Majesty’s grace that showed Thaksin mercy,” the former leader’s lawyer Winyat Chatmontri told Reuters, referring to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

“Thais should accept and not criticise this outcome because it could be considered a violation of royal power,” he said.

Thailand’s strict royal insult law shields the monarchy from criticism, carrying a prison sentence of up to 15 years. - REUTERS

Maha VajiralongkornThaksin ShinawatrathailandThai politics