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Thai prosecutors say former Prime Minister Thaksin is being investigated for royal defamation

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BANGKOK — State prosecutors in Thailand stated Tuesday they’ve revived an investigation into whether or not former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra nearly 9 years in the past violated the legislation in opposition to defaming the monarch, a criminal offense punishable by as much as 15 years in jail.

Thaksin had been charged in 2016 with violating the legislation on royal defamation — also referred to as Article 112 — for remarks he made to journalists the earlier yr when he was in Seoul, South Korea, stated Prayut Phetcharakun, a spokesperson for the Workplace of the Lawyer Common, at a information convention.

Thaksin, who was ousted by a 2006 navy coup, is at the moment confined to a police hospital in Bangkok the place he’s serving time for convictions associated to corruption and abuse of energy. He had been in self-imposed exile since 2008, however voluntarily returned to Thailand in August final yr to start serving an eight-year jail sentence.

He was moved nearly instantly to the hospital on grounds of ailing well being and a couple of week after that, King Maha Vajiralongkorn decreased his sentence to a single yr. The discount made Thaksin, now 74, eligible to use for parole after serving at the least one-third — 4 months — of his amended sentence, and could possibly be launched later this month.

The choice to indict Thaksin was made in 2016, however additional authorized strikes have been suspended till he might reply to the fees, which he did when the authorities notified him of them within the hospital on Jan. 17, in accordance with Prayut. Thaksin denied any wrongdoing and submitted a letter rebutting the cost, which was added to his case file for use in deciding whether or not or to not proceed with prosecuting him, Prayut stated.

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The announcement from the attorney-general’s workplace implies that if Thaksin will get early launch, as is broadly anticipated, he can instantly be taken again into custody on the royal defamation cost.

Thaksin’s return to Thailand final yr got here the identical day that the Pheu Thai celebration — the most recent incarnation of the celebration that he initially led to energy in 2001, and for which he’s thought of the de facto chief — received a parliamentary vote to type a brand new authorities.

The earlier authorities was closely influenced by the navy, which continued its hostility towards Thaksin and his allies lengthy after ousting him in 2006. Thaksin’s critics have questioned whether or not his shift from jail to extra congenial environment within the hospital mirrored particular privilege as a part of a political deal between his supporters and opponents.

Thaksin turned prime minister in 2001 by selling populist insurance policies and utilizing his telecommunications fortune to construct his personal political celebration, and was simply reelected in 2005.

Thailand’s conventional royalist ruling class felt threatened by Thaksin’s reputation. His ouster set off years of typically violent confrontations between his supporters and opponents. Political events along with his backing continued to win elections however have been compelled from energy a number of occasions by the courts and the military, each bulwarks of royalism.

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