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Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin released on parole

February 18, 2024

Thaksin Shinawatra was serving a one-year jail term or corruption-related offenses. He was released early on parole and had been serving his sentence from a police hospital.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, right, sits in a vehicle with his daughter Paetongtarn in front of his residence after being released on parole
Thaksin spent six months in a Bangkok hospital before his release.Image: Wason Wanichakorn/AP Photo/picture alliance

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been released on parole.

He was seen leaving a hospital, where he had been detained for six months, early on Sunday.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said Thaksin had been scheduled to be released on parole on Sunday.

Why was Thaksin Shinawatra detained?

Former Prime Minister and Pheu Thai party founder Thaksin was ousted in a coup 17 years ago, driving him into self-imposed exile. He was in office from 2001 to 2006.

He returned to Thailand for the first time in 15 years in August, only to be quickly arrested and taken to the Supreme Court, which sentenced him to eight years on charges of graft and abuse of power. His eight-year sentence was commuted to a year by King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Thailand's former leader Thaksin Shinawatra returns from exile

Thaksin was transferred to hospital hours after his imprisonment as he suffered from high blood pressure and chest pain.

The Pheu Thai party leads Thailand's coalition government, which was formed after elections in May 2023 after the party struck an alliance with pro-military factions, leading to opponents to speculate that Thaksin's release was secured as part of a deal. The current leader of the party is Thaksin's youngest daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra.

The government has denied having made a deal to ensure the former prime minister's release, with Srettha insisting that "[Thaksin] has already served his jail time."

Why was Thaksin released early?

Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong confirmed approval of Thaksin's release on parole last week. He cited the possibility of early release for those who have serious illnesses, are disabled or are over 70.

Thaksin's lawyer, Winyat Chartmontri, confirmed that the former premier had completed parole proceedings and had been released from detention.

"He has left the police hospital," Chartmontri told the Reuters news agency.

Thaksin is 74 years old and had been confined to a police hospital in the Thai capital.

The former prime minister arrived home early on Sunday.

Thaksin's daughter, Paetongtarn, said in a social media post: "Thaksin has arrived home, hope he will have good health."

A banner with the words "Welcome home" and "We've been waiting for this day for so long" was seen hanging at the front gate of his western Bangkok residence.

sdi/lo (AP, AFP, Reuters)