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Thai king may be expelled if ruling from Germany

November 22, 2020

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn may be expelled from Germany if he issues decrees from his Bavarian villa, the Bundestag has said. The monarch's long stays in Europe have been under scrutiny amid democracy protests.

Thailand König Maha Vajiralongkorn
Image: Athit Perawongmetha/REUTERS

The German Parliament has said that Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn enjoys diplomatic immunity during his extended stays in his Bavarian villa, but the state does have the power to expel him from the country.

According to an assessment by the Bundestag's academic services (WD), and commissioned by the socialist Left party, the German state has very little power to prosecute the Thai king, despite recent threats by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Maas has previously warned Vajiralongkorn against ruling his country from Germany amid ongoing protests against what critics say is the king's undemocratic rule in Thailand. More than 50 people wereinjured in demonstrations in Bangkok this week alone.

"We have made clear that the policies that affect the country Thailand are not to be carried out from German soil," Maas said in early October.


But short of expelling the king from Germany as a "persona non grata," law enforcement has no way to prosecute the king, who represents Thailand even when he is on vacation, the Bundestag found. That means that, under diplomatic immunity, he cannot be punished for crimes committed in Germany or be put under surveillance.

Lockdown luxury

Vajiralongkorn spends months at a time in his villa by Lake Starnberg, just south of Munich, and in spring he frequently stayed in a luxury hotel in the ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, defying a ban on hotel stays in the state — at the time one of Bavaria's coronavirus lockdown measures. 

Read more: Thailand's king living in luxury quarantine while his country suffers

The king returned to Thailand in October, but the Left party has called on the German government to ban him from reentering Germany. "Anyone who, like the king, brutally suppresses a democratic movement with a military junta, should not be rewarded with a visa for luxury extended stays in Germany," Left party parliamentarians Sevim Dagdelen and Heike Hänsel said in a joint statement.

Earlier in November, the German Foreign Ministry said it had found no evidence that the king was issuing decrees from Bavaria that were violating human rights — though opposition politicians found this less than credible, considering the length of the king's stays in Germany.

"The question of what the government was doing to counter such unlawful actions remains unanswered," Margarete Brause of the Green party said in a statement.

Benjamin Knight Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH
Ben Knight Ben Knight is a journalist in Berlin who mainly writes about German politics.@BenWernerKnight