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Thaksin indicted for alleged insult of monarchy, granted bail

By YANG WANLI | | Updated: 2024-06-18 18:55
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(FILES) Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets his supporters after landing at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport on August 22, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was on June 18 indicted for allegedly insulting the monarchy in a media interview nine years ago, but was granted bail by a court, helping him avoid pre-trial detention.

Thaksin, 74, is accused of defaming the monarchy during an interview with the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo in 2015. In the interview, he claimed that privy councilors supported the 2014 coup that ousted the government of his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Police alleged that the comments made during the interview violated Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, also known as the lese-majeste law, as well as the Computer Crimes Act.

The computer crime charge is related to Thaksin inputting information into a computer system that was deemed a threat to national security.

On June 18, Thailand's Criminal Court accepted the indictment from the Office of the Attorney General against Thaksin in a royal defamation charge related to the 2015 interview.

Thailand's lese-majeste law carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years for each perceived royal insult.

At a news conference, a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General, Prayuth Bejraguna, said Thaksin reported himself to prosecutors just before 9 am. "The indictment process had been completed and the prosecutor has sent the suspect to court," he said.

Thaksin denies the charges against him.

"The court has released Thaksin on bail of 500,000 baht ($13,590) under the condition that he is prohibited from leaving the country unless granted permission," said a court statement.

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

On his return to the country in August, the Supreme Court ordered the former influential leader to serve the jail sentence for abuse of power and conflict of interest during his tenure as prime minister. The sentence was later reduced to one year by a royal pardon. In February this year, Thaksin was released on parole from police hospital to serve the remaining six months of the one-year jail term at home.

Apart from the case against Thaksin, there were another three high-profile political cases being heard on June 18.

The Constitutional Court conducted a hearing in a case that could lead to the dismissal of Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, on a charge related to a cabinet appointment that is alleged to have violated the constitution. The court extends allotted time by 15 days to Srettha to submit more evidence on the case. Srettha has denied any wrongdoing.

It also heard a complaint by the Election Commission, requesting the dissolution of the opposition Move Forward Party, the largest party in the Thai parliament, over its campaign to amend the lese-majeste law. For this case, the court will reconvene on Jul 3 and verification of additional evidences and witnesses will be made on Jul 9.

The last case is to address whether the drawn-out Senate election process, which started earlier this month and is scheduled to conclude in early July, is lawful. And the Court rules that the indirect election of the senate is not against the Constitution.

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