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Ex-Thai PM Thaksin released on parole

By YANG WANLI in Bangkok | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:13
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Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (right) sits in a vehicle with his daughter Paetongtarn near his residence in Bangkok after being released on parole on Sunday. WASON WANICHAKORN/AP

Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released on parole from police hospital early on Sunday to serve his remaining six months of a jail term at home.

On his return to the country in August the Supreme Court sentenced him to eight years' imprisonment for abuse of power and conflict of interest while serving as prime minister. The sentence was later reduced to one year by a royal pardon.

Thaksin was seen wearing a neck support, a sling on his right arm and a surgical mask inside one of the cars in a convoy that left the Police General Hospital, where he received treatment and served six months of his prison sentence. He was accompanied by his two daughters, and they arrived at his residence in western Bangkok less than an hour later, The Associated Press reported.

Thaksin's lawyer confirmed the jailed billionaire's release, saying he had completed parole proceedings and had been freed.

The 74-year-old former Manchester City owner is among 930 inmates approved for parole this month, the Justice Ministry said. He is eligible for parole because he is over 70 years old and suffers from a serious illness.

After 15 years of self-imposed exile, Thaksin returned to Thailand on Aug 22. For corruption stemming from his tenure as prime minister between 2001 and 2006 he was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison.

On the first night of his stay at Bangkok Remand Prison, corrections doctors determined that he had to be transferred to police hospital because of serious illnesses.

In a previous interview with local media, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong reiterated strict adherence to the law in dealing with the case.

"The government works in accordance with the constitution and the rule of law principle."

According to criteria for special parole by the Department of Correction, parole will be granted for an individual who is over 70 years of age or is suffering from a serious medical condition and has completed one-third of his or her prison term.

The exact details of the release were unclear, but Thaksin may be subject to monitoring, possibly with an ankle tag, and restrictions on his right to travel, Agence France-Presse reported.

Party influence

Thaksin, regarded as the patriarch of the ruling Pheu Thai party, is still widely believed to retain strong influence, with his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra being the party's current leader. She was also among the three prime ministerial candidates when Pheu Thai contested the general election last year.

The Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, suggested on Sunday that Thaksin would not involve himself in politics but said that if and when he is ready to give advice "everyone in the government is ready to listen".

Thaksin's family welcomed him at a family mansion in Bangkok, the Thai news group The Nation reported. Thaksin's grandchildren were writing homecoming cards for him, Paetongtarn said.

No other family members would stay at the mansion with Thaksin, in accordance with Corrections Department regulations.

Days before Thaksin was released the opposition leader Chaithawat Tulathon said that Srettha and the Pheu Thai party should act carefully to prevent allegations of Thaksin's intervention in their government.

Agencies and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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