Thailand’s king has granted a partial pardon to ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, commuting his sentence from eight years in prison to one, just days after the politician returned to the country after 15 years in jail. exile, the country’s official newspaper reported on Friday.
Mr Thaksin, 74, arrived in Thailand on August 22, just hours before Parliament chose Srettha Thavisin, of the Pheu Thai party, linked to Thaksin, as Prime Minister. He was quickly taken into custody and declared by a court that he should serve an eight-year sentence in connection with three corruption and abuse of power cases.
Mr Thaksin remains one of Thailand’s leaders most influential politicians. He served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, then was overthrown in a coup. Since 2001, the political parties he founded have consistently won the most votes in every election – except this year when the progressive Move Forward party won a surprise victory.
For decades, Mr. Thaksin’s name has sparked bitter divisions in Thailand. The country was divided between the pro-Thaksin”red t shirt“Protesters from the rural north and anti-Thaksin”yellow shirtFaction made up of royalists and the urban elite, who clashed in the streets of Bangkok. Wealthy aristocrats and the military saw him as a threat.
Mr Thaksin’s sudden return has fueled speculation he has struck a deal with powerful royalists to reduce his prison term in return for a deal to help perpetuate their power. On his first night in jail, authorities said he was transferred to a police hospital due to chest pain, high blood pressure and low blood oxygen levels.
On Thursday, outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said he had received a request for a royal pardon for Mr Thaksin.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn took into account that Mr Thaksin had “contributed beneficially to the nation and the people and was loyal to the monarchy”, according to a statement in the Royal Gazette, which communicates new laws, decrees and appointments. The statement also noted that Mr. Thaksin “is elderly and suffers from health problems”.
The King “graciously granted royal pardon to reduce his one-year prison sentence,” the statement said, “so that he can continue to use his knowledge, abilities and experience to help and contribute to the nation, to society and peoples.