Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra indicted over royal insult allegations


18th June 2024 – (Bangkok) Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a central figure in Thailand’s political landscape, has been formally indicted for allegedly insulting the monarchy during a 2015 media interview, according to the attorney-general’s office spokesperson, Prayuth Bejraguna. This charge marks the beginning of what could be a turbulent period for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, with significant legal battles involving top political figures underway.

The indictment of Thaksin is just one of four critical cases being heard on Tuesday that could have profound implications for Thailand’s political stability. These cases touch upon some of the most influential leaders, including the current Prime Minister, and are set against a backdrop of a longstanding divide between the conservative-royalist bloc and opposition forces like the populist Pheu Thai party and the progressive Move Forward party.

Thaksin, 74, has refuted the allegations against him. If bail is not granted, he faces the prospect of pre-trial detention. Thailand’s lese-majeste law, under which Thaksin is charged, is notorious for its severity, with penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment per offence for actions deemed disrespectful to the monarchy.

In parallel, the Constitutional Court is slated to address several other critical issues. These include a challenge against Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who is accused of unlawfully appointing a convicted lawyer to his cabinet, and a case against the Move Forward Party, which is at risk of being dissolved over its campaign to reform the royal insult law. Additionally, the court is reviewing the legality of the ongoing selection process for a new upper house, a decision that could impact the tenure of military-appointed senators influential in past government formations.