Thailand indicts former leader, THAKSIN SHINAWATRA, on royal insult charges

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 - Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra has been indicted on charges of insulting the monarchy, the country’s attorney-general has said.

The case, filed by police, alleged Thaksin violated Thailand’s notoriously harsh royal insult law during an interview he gave in 2015 to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

“The attorney general has decided to indict Thaksin on all charges,” spokesperson Prayuth Bejraguna, told reporters Wednesday. Thaksin will need to appear before the Office of the Attorney General on June 18, after which he will be taken to court. He could not appear at Wednesday’s hearing due to a Covid-19 infection, the spokesperson said.

Thaksin has denied the charges, according to the spokesperson, and has repeatedly pledged loyalty to the monarchy.

He is the most high-profile figure to face charges under Thailand's notorious lese majeste law, which has been used extensively against political dissidents.

Thaksin, who served as prime minister from 2001 until he was ousted in a military coup in 2006, made a dramatic return to Thailand last August after 15 years in self-imposed exile and was taken into custody.

Some experts believe Thaksin may have struck a deal with the country’s powerful conservative and royalist establishment for his return given his court convictions and the charges against him. Thaksin has denied the claim.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison for conflict of interest, abuse of power, and corruption during his time in power, though his sentence was later reduced to one year. In February, the 74-year-old was released from detention after being granted parole, having served just six months in a police hospital.

Thailand has some of the world’s strictest royal defamation laws, and criticizing the king, queen, or heir apparent can lead to a maximum 15-year prison sentence for each offense.

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