13th February 2024 – (Bangkok) Thailand’s political landscape is poised for a significant shift as Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong announced the impending release of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, potentially by this weekend. Minister Sodsong’s declaration comes amidst a wider initiative to suspend the sentences of prisoners on compassionate grounds.
Thaksin, aged 74, finds himself among approximately 930 inmates set to benefit from this suspension, a measure reserved for those facing critical health conditions or those over the age of 70. Having served six months of his commuted one-year sentence, the ailing Thaksin is automatically eligible for this clemency.
The erstwhile prime minister’s health troubles became apparent shortly after his return to Thailand last August, ending a 15-year period of self-imposed exile. Within hours of his arrival to commence his sentence for abuse of power, Thaksin was hospitalised for high blood pressure and chest pain, symptoms that have since warranted his treatment in a police hospital.
Thaksin’s original eight-year sentence was notably reduced following the intervention of a royal pardon, a customary practice in Thai governance that allows for mercy to be extended to convicts on special occasions. This royal gesture has dovetailed with the sentence suspension program, culminating in Thaksin’s imminent release.