Former Thai PM Thaksin released on parole after serving 6 months in hospital

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Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, center, sits in a vehicle after being released on parole Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, center, sits in a vehicle after being released on parole Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Bangkok, Thailand.
| Photo Credit: AP

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released on parole early Sunday, February 18, 2024, from a Bangkok hospital where he spent six months serving time for corruption-related offenses.

Thaksin was seen in a convoy of cars leaving the Police General Hospital just before sunrise and is believed to be headed to his residence in western Bangkok. A homemade banner with the words “Welcome home” and “We’ve been waiting for this day for so so long” was seen hanging at the front gate of his house.

A polarising figure in Thai politics over the last two decades, Thaksin was in office from 2001 until he was toppled in a 2006 coup. He was later convicted of abuse of power and other misdeeds while in office and returned in August from more than a decade of self-imposed exile to serve his prison sentence.

His original eight-year sentence was commuted to only a year by King Maha Vajiralongkorn on September 1 last year. Thaksin had called his convictions politically motivated.

Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong confirmed approval of Thaksin’s parole last week, citing the possibility of early release for inmates who have serious illnesses, are disabled, or are over the age of 70. Thaksin is 74 years old.

He was confined to a police hospital in Bangkok. Opponents charged that serving his sentence in a hospital was a special privilege.

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