Who is Thaksin Shinawatra? Former Thailand’s controversial PM released on parole

After 15 years in self-imposed exile, he had returned in Aug last year

Thailand Thaksin (File) Thailand's former premier Thaksin Shinawatra speaks to journalists outside his home in Dubai | Reuters

After serving nearly one-year jail sentence for corruption and abuse of power, Thailand's one of the most controversial politician and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released on parole on Sunday. Shinawatra was released from a Bangkok hospital, where is spent six months due to health problems.

Shinawatra, 74, has returned to Thailand last August after 15 years in self-imposed exile. The billionaire was toppled in a 2006 coup. He was originally sentenced to eight years in prison, however, Thailand's king had reduced it to one year days after Shinawatra's return from exile.

The king's decision was criticised by many including the opposition. "Thailand needs a democratic system where the rule of law and justice system is applied in the same way for everyone, without double standards... for privileged people," read the statement issued by Thailand's Move Forward Party, which won a majority of seats at the last election.

Meanwhile, Shinawatra was seen wearing a neck brace, a sling on his right arm and a mask inside one of the cars that left the police hospital. He was accompanied by his two daughters on his way to the residence in western Bangkok.

Thailand Thaksin Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, sits in a vehicle with his daughters Paetongtarn and Pinthongta after being released on parole Sunday | AP

Not a single day did Shinawatra spent in jail after his return due to health issues.

According to authorities, Shinawatra was eligible for parole due to his age and health issues. Shinawatra will still have to report to parole officers every month for the remainder of his sentence and will have a travel restriction as well. But he is not required to wear an ankle monitor due to his age and health conditions, said the officials.

In 2006, when he was removed from the position, he was accused of corruption, disrespect for the monarchy and abuse of power. Even the conservatives, including army, regarded his popularity as a threat to the royal institution. Shinawatra had insisted that his prosecution in the courts was politically motivated.

He had left the country in 2008 and spent most of his exile days in London or Dubai. His family's Pheu Thai party is currently in power in Thailand.

Thaksin Shinawatra was the first PM in Thailand's history to lead an elected government through a full term in office in 2001-06.

However, last year's elections brought change when progressive Move Forward Party came first. It was the first time a Thaksin-backed party failed to top the polls since 2001. The military-appointed Senate refused to approve its candidate for PM, paving way for Pheu Thai to form a coalition government.

Thai officials said earlier this month that they have reopened an investigation into allegations of defaming the monarchy made against Thaksin almost nine years ago. If the Office of the Attorney General decides to indict him, Thaksin could be detained again, reported The Associated Press


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