18th September 2023 – (Bangkok) Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister, may be granted parole as early as late February, according to a senior corrections official. Thaksin had his original eight-year prison sentence reduced to one year after his recent return from self-exile.
Thaksin, a prominent and controversial figure in Thai politics, made a dramatic homecoming last month after 15 years of self-imposed exile. He was overthrown by a military coup in 2006 and was subsequently found guilty in absentia in three cases related to abuse of power, conflict of interest, and malfeasance while he was abroad.
Coinciding with Thaksin’s return, his ally Srettha Thavisin assumed the role of Thailand’s new prime minister, bringing an end to months of uncertainty following the May elections, which saw the ruling pro-military party’s defeat. Thaksin’s affiliated parties had enjoyed electoral success since 2001, but this year the Pheu Thai party, backed by his family, secured second place.
Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire known for his populist policies and confrontational style, had clashed with the country’s established elite and the royalist military. In 2014, his sister’s government was also ousted by the military.
There were speculations about a potential agreement between Thaksin and his old adversaries, especially after pro-military parties lent support to Srettha, the Pheu Thai candidate, to form a new government. However, both Thaksin and Srettha deny any deal or collaboration.
Upon his return to Thailand, Thaksin was admitted to a police hospital due to chest pains and high blood pressure, where he is currently receiving treatment. Shortly afterwards, King Maha Vajiralongkorn commuted his eight-year sentence to one year, with the possibility of an earlier release.
According to Sitthi Sutivong, the Deputy Director General of the Corrections Department, Thaksin will become eligible for parole after serving six months of his sentence, based on the criteria for prisoners over 70 or those who are ill. The decision for parole is made on a case-by-case basis, and there is no specific petition process for these cases.
The duration of Thaksin’s hospitalization will be determined by medical professionals, without a specified time limit, added Sitthi.