Former Thailand PM Thaksin Shinawatra released on parole News
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Former Thailand PM Thaksin Shinawatra released on parole

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released on parole on Sunday, according to local media, six months into his year-long sentence for corruption and abuse of power. Incumbent Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin previously announced the former PM’s release on Tuesday

Thaksin, 74, was seen leaving Police General Hospital in the Pathum Wan District of Bangkok, the country’s capital, early Sunday morning. He reportedly stayed there for the duration of his time served, due to alleged serious and life-threatening health conditions, following his detention in August last year.  

The former PM, who returned from a self-imposed exile spanning 15 years in August 2023, was taken into custody upon arrival in Thailand. Originally set to be imprisoned for eight years, Thaksin’s sentence was commuted to one year by the King of Thailand in a royal pardon on August 31.

Thaksin is one of 930 other inmates who have been granted parole under a Correction Department regulation, which allows for prisoners to be considered for parole after a certain period and an official review. Thai authorities have asserted that Thaksin was made eligible for release due to his poor health and age. 

Thaksin, who served in the Thai Police from 1973-1987 and as the country’s PM from 2001 to 2006, was originally charged with abusing his authority as PM to facilitate his then-wife’s 2003 purchase of land from the Bank of Thailand’s Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) at a discounted price. He was convicted in absentia in 2008 for violating provisions of the National Counter-Corruption Act. 

Thaksin’s release has been celebrated by both prominent governmental figures and members of the general public. However, there has also been criticism as to the handling of the case, in particular from members of the opposition, who believe the decision to grant Thaksin parole is indicative of innate inequities in the country’s justice system. They say the rich and powerful receive privileged or preferential treatment. The opposition Move Forward Party released a statement saying that Thailand doesn’t need a double-standard justice system.

Ahead of Thaksin’s release Sunday, the Student and People’s Network for Thailand Reform, gathered outside the hospital Saturday night to oppose the former PM’s parole. They have called upon the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the legitimacy of Thaksin’s illness(es). They previously called for Thaksin to be returned to prison.

The NACC has accepted the complaint and asserts that they are cooperating with the Corrections Department and Police General Hospital to provide information to verify Thaksin’s condition. 

Following his release, Thaksin returned to his residence in Bang Phlat district. It is unclear whether his release was made subject to conditions such as monitoring or travel curbs.