Reuters Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after his return to Bangkok last week
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 11:59
The Thai King Vajiralongkorn has largely pardoned former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (74): of the eight years in prison that Thaksin still had to serve, only one year remains. Thaksin had made an official request for pardon yesterday.
The popular former prime minister was convicted of corruption in 2010, but had already fled to Dubai to avoid what he believed to be political persecution. Only last week did Thaksin return to Thailand. He was immediately detained, but admitted to hospital the same night because he suffered from chest pain and high blood pressure. He is still admitted.
His daughter Paetongtarn now leads the party he once founded and formed a coalition with two parties linked to the army after the elections earlier this year. It was generally assumed that Thaksin would not have returned to Thailand if he had not already had the prospect of a greatly reduced prison sentence.
‘Loyal to the monarchy’
In a press statement, the royal family said that Thaksin “as prime minister has done a good job for the country and its people, and is loyal to the monarchy. He has admitted his guilt, apologized and accepted the verdict.”
The 74-year-old billionaire Thaksin used the fortune he had built up in telecommunications to set up his own party around the turn of the century. He was elected Prime Minister in 2001 and re-elected in 2005. Thaksin was seen as a social reformer, but also as a divisive politician. He was deposed by the military in 2006, but has always had a large following.