Thailand's ex-PM Thaksin to be indicted over royal insult

World Wednesday 29/May/2024 14:33 PM
By: DW
Thailand's ex-PM Thaksin to be indicted over royal insult

Bangkok: Thailand's attorney general is set to indict former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for allegedly insulting the monarchy, an official said on Wednesday.

"The attorney-general has decided to indict Thaksin on all charges," spokesperson Prayuth Bejraguna told reporters, adding that the former premier will need to appear before a court on June 18.

While Thaksin was not present at the court on Wednesday due to a COVID-19 infection, his lawyer, Winyat Chartmontri, said he would fight the allegations. "He is ready to prove his innocence in the justice system," Winyat told reporters.

The indictment is a setback for the political heavyweight who still has loyalists in the current Thai government. It is only the latest in a long list of legal battles he has faced in Thailand.

What is the indictment about?
The complaint refers to remarks in an interview that Thaksin gave to foreign media in 2015 while he was in self-exile. It was lodged by the royalist military which ousted the government of his sister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.

The 74-year-old tycoon has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to the crown, criticism of which is forbidden under Thailand's lese-majeste law.

Thailand has some of the world's strictest royal defamation laws protecting King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the core royal family. Each charge brings a potential 15-year prison sentence.

This comes mere months after Thaksin was granted parole after he was jailed on corruption charges since returning home from exile in August 2023.

Thaksin's record
The former prime minister and Pheu Thai party founder was ousted in a coup 17 years ago, driving him into self-imposed exile.

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 sentence, which was later reduced to one year, is said to be based on past convictions he had obtained in absentia.

At the time of his parole, speculation rose around the timing of his choice to return from exile. Some suspect that the Pheu Thai party had made a deal with other parties involving a pardon for him.

Srettha Thavisin, the country's newly-appointed prime minister, is now considered the face of Thaksin's political movement.