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Former Thai PM’s prison sentence reduced to a year

Former Thai PM's prison sentence reduced to a year

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had his original eight-year prison term reduced to one year by the country’s King.

Mr. Thaksin was arrested shortly after his return from a 15-year exile last month.

After he complained of cardiac difficulties, he was transferred to the posh section of a public hospital.

Mr. Thaksin had previously claimed the pending sentences were politically motivated because of the corruption and abuse of power charges.

One of Thailand’s most prominent and divisive figures, Mr. Thaksin, was deposed by a military coup in 2006 and fled the nation two years later to escape serving time in prison.

His supposed return on August 22 as part of a political bargain garnered much speculation. It was an effort to form a coalition government between his widely supported Pheu Thai party and its former opponents.

Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, second right, is greeted by supporters on his arrival at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

It fulfilled that requirement. Pheu Thai’s candidate, Srettha Thavisin, was elected prime minister just hours after his arrival as part of a new coalition administration. The coalition comprises the military faction that opposed Mr. Thaksin and led the 2014 coup that ousted his party.

Mr. Thaksin obviously expected some mercy as part of the bargain, and King Vajiralongkorn has granted his plea for a pardon by cutting his term in half from eight to one year. Mr. Thaksin is expected to remain hospitalized.

The royal gazette granted his request for a pardon on Friday, citing his “illness” and advanced age as justifications. Mr. Thaksin “has done good for the country and people and is loyal to the monarchy,” the document continued.

Mr. Thaksin, though, must have hoped that his sentence would be overturned rather than merely reduced.

Because of his imprisonment, he will be unable to have much influence over his party as it attempts to steer a coalition government in which it controls less than half of the seats in parliament. It also has to contend with a spirited challenge from the young Move Forward party, which won the 2014 general election, passing Pheu Thai in the process.

Despite forming a coalition with Pheu Thai, Move Forward was still unable to become the government. The two coalition partners failed to win over the 250-person unelected senate that is permitted to vote alongside the 500-person elected parliament in choosing the Prime Minister of Thailand.

Mr. Thaksin has ended the 20-year feud with conservative royalists that has plagued Thailand by returning and accepting his punishment. However, this comes at the expense of a greatly weakened political profile.


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