Ex-Thai PM Thaksin to face trial for royal insult

Ex-Thai PM Thaksin to face trial for royal insult

on May 29, 2024

More in ASEAN IN FOCUS:

(FILES) Thailandís former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (front) is seen sitting next to current Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin (back) during a homecoming dinner in Chiang Mai on March 15, 2024. Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be prosecuted for insulting the monarchy, the attorney general’s office said on May 29, over comments he made while in self-exile in 2015. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

BANGKOK, May 29, 2024 (AFP) – Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be prosecuted for insulting the monarchy, the attorney general’s office said Wednesday, over comments he made almost a decade ago.

Prayuth Pecharakun, spokesman for the attorney general, said Thaksin would be summoned to court on June 18 to answer charges under the kingdom’s strict lese-majeste laws.

The decision comes as a blow to Thaksin, a two-time premier ousted in a 2006 coup who returned to Thailand last year after 15 years living overseas as his Pheu Thai party took power at the head of a coalition government.

“The attorney general has decided to indict Thaksin for insulting the monarchy,” Prayuth told reporters

“The attorney general cannot bring him to court today, as his (Thaksin’s) lawyer said he has Covid.”

Thaksin’s lawyer, Winyat Chatmontree, said he would fight the charges.

“He is ready to prove his innocence in the justice system,” Winyat told reporters.

Thailand has some of the world’s strictest royal defamation laws protecting King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his close family, with each charge bringing a potential 15-year prison sentence.

The case against Thaksin relates to comments he made in 2015 to South Korean media and is the latest in a series of legal battles he has fought.

When he returned to Thailand in August last year, the billionaire former Manchester City owner was jailed on graft and abuse-of-power charges dating back to his time in office.

The king soon cut Thaksin’s sentence from eight years to one and he was freed on parole earlier this year, making numerous public appearances since.