Thailand's controversial billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra was granted parole after spending six months in detention. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed the development on Tuesday, underscoring Thaksin's contributions to the nation while addressing his release.
Thaksin, an influential figure in Thai politics and one of the country's most recognizable prime ministers, returned to Thailand dramatically after 15 years of self-imposed exile to evade imprisonment over a conflict of interest charge. Despite initially facing an eight-year jail term, his sentence was reduced to a year by royal decree, of which he has already served six months in hospital detention due to undisclosed health issues, bypassing time in a conventional prison setting.
"It's official that he received parole. It's in line with the corrections department regulations," Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, a business tycoon and ally of the Shinawatra family, affirmed to reporters. "Thaksin was prime minister for many years and did many good things for the country for a long time. After he comes out, he would be a normal citizen."
Thaksin's parole approval comes amid a broader context, with reports indicating he was among 930 prisoners deemed elderly or ill and eligible for parole. However, his potential release, slated for after February 18th, remains subject to corrections department rules. As of now, Thaksin's lawyer has yet to provide comments on the matter.
Nevertheless, despite the parole grant, Thaksin faces the looming prospect of detention as public prosecutors weigh charging him for allegedly insulting the monarchy during a 2015 interview. This legal backdrop adds further complexity to his already contentious return to the country's political arena.
Thaksin's comeback coincided with the ascension of political newcomer Srettha as prime minister, fueling speculation of a potential pact between Thaksin and his adversaries within Thailand's royalist-military establishment. However, both Thaksin's allies and the government, led by the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai Party, have dismissed such conjecture.
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