Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra Could be Released on Parole in February

Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may be released on parole in late February, according to a senior corrections official. Thaksin had his eight-year prison sentence reduced to one year after returning from self-exile. He entered self-exile 15 years ago after being ousted by a military coup in 2006. While abroad, Thaksin was found guilty in absentia in three cases related to abuse of power, conflict of interest, and malfeasance.

Thaksin’s return to Thailand coincided with the emergence of Srettha Thavisin, his ally, as the country’s new prime minister. This followed months of uncertainty after the ruling pro-military party’s defeat in the May elections. Parties aligned with Thaksin had continuously won elections since 2001, except for this year when the Pheu Thai party, backed by his family, secured second place.

Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire known for his populist policies and confrontational style, had clashed with Thailand’s old money elites and royalist military, who had ousted his sister’s government in 2014. There were speculations of a possible deal between Thaksin and his old foes, given the pro-military parties’ support for Srettha to form a new government. Thaksin and Srettha both denied this speculation.

Upon his return to Thailand, Thaksin was admitted to a police hospital due to chest pains and high blood pressure. He is currently receiving medical treatment there. King Maha Vajiralongkorn later commuted his sentence from eight years to one year. Thaksin may be eligible for parole after serving six months of his sentence, as he is older than 70 and in poor health. The decision for parole is made by the corrections department for each case, and there is no petition process.

The duration of Thaksin’s hospital treatment is determined by medical professionals and has no specific time limit.