Thailand king commutes former PM’s 8-year sentence to 1 year News
Helene C. Stikkel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Thailand king commutes former PM’s 8-year sentence to 1 year

The Thai Royal Gazette announced on Friday that Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn granted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a royal pardon, reducing Thaksin’s eight-year prison sentence to one year. A royal pardon, which may be granted as an unconditional release or commutation of punishment at the discretion of Thailand’s king, is the act of forgiving offender of a crime.

Thaksin, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, returned to Thailand after 15 years of self-exile in London and Dubai on August 22. While Thaksin was initially sent to Bangkok Remand Prison, he was later transferred to a public hospital on his first night after experiencing chest pains and high blood pressure. He then submitted a request for a royal pardon yesterday.

In granting Thaksin a royal pardon, the government-run Royal Gazette noted that Thaksin had done good for the country and remained loyal to the monarchy. According to the Royal Gazette, the king pardoned Thaksin because he respected the process, admitted guilt, repented and accepted court verdicts. Thaksin’s old age and illness were also considerations.

The Royal Gazette also stated that Thaksin will be encouraged to utilize his knowledge, experience and capabilities to benefit Thailand after his one-year sentence. In addition, Thaksin’s lawyer Winyat Chatmontri said that it is the Vajiralongkorn’s grace that has showed Thaksin mercy and that Thais should accept this outcome.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy ruled by head of state Vajiralongkorn and head of government Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. Under Thai law, prisoners may submit a pardon application to the Minister of Justice through the Department of Corrections. The justice minister thereafter forwards the application to the prime minister, who will send the application to the Privy Council, before it reaches the King of Thailand. As a constitutional monarchy, the king has the final say on whether offenders are granted royal pardons.