Home News Former Thai PM Thaksin accused of insulting monarchy

Former Thai PM Thaksin accused of insulting monarchy

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Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister and a powerful figure behind the current government, was charged on Tuesday with insulting the monarchy, ushering in an uncertain period that could plunge Thailand into a political crisis.

Thaksin is the highest-profile figure to be charged with violating royal defamation laws, one of the world’s toughest. His bail is about $14,000, but the case could drag on for months, according to a Thai court.

The prosecution is the latest sign of the royalist military exerting its will. Last year, the military allowed Thaksin to enter Thailand after 15 years of self-imposed exile and has effectively worked with the longtime rival to prevent a new challenger from coming to power. Now, analysts say, the royalist military is threatening legal action against the 74-year-old Thaksin to curb his political ambitions.

Although Thaksin has no official role in the current government, he is widely seen as having strong influence over the ruling coalition, which is led by his Pheu Thai Party. Many of his allies have been appointed to the cabinet.

Current Prime Minister Sreeta Taweesin, an ally of Thaksin, also faces a legal challenge and could be suspended. He is accused of violating the constitution by appointing a lawyer with a criminal record to his cabinet. Sreeta’s case was heard in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

The court is also considering a petition to dissolve the opposition Kadima party, which won the most seats in last year’s election but was blocked from forming a government after it ruled in January that it had violated the constitution by weakening royal defamation laws.

The cases are a reminder of who controls the levers of power in Thailand, which has long been ruled by royalists and the military, which uses the judiciary or the armed forces to crush any challengers.

The charges against Thaksin stem from statements he made in an interview with the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. Nine years ago, he accused the Privy Council, the king’s top advisory body, of plotting a coup in 2014. He is also accused of entering information deemed a threat to national security into a computer system. His lawyer, Winyat Chatmontree, told reporters that Thaksin has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mr Winyatt said Thaksin’s passport had been confiscated by authorities and he was currently banned from leaving the country.

Thaksin has long been a thorn in the conservatives’ side. He is a charismatic telecom billionaire whose populist policies energized voters in the rural north. He stepped down in 2006 after about five years in office, as his “red shirt” supporters and the “Taiwan independence movement” opposed to Thaksin.Yellow shirt“Anti-establishment” factions, made up of royalists and urban elites, were active on the streets of Bangkok for much of the 21st century.

Thaksin fled Thailand after his fall but remains influential while living in Dubai and London. The party he founded has won the most votes in every election – except last year’s progressive Progressive Party. An unexpected victory.

Last year, Thaksin made a dramatic return to Thailand, which many saw as part of a deal with former rivals in the old establishment to prevent the Progress Party from coming to power.

Although he was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of corruption and abuse of power upon his return to Bangkok, he never spent a day in jail. The King commuted the sentence His sentence was one year. Released on parole After serving his sentence in the hospital.

After returning home, it became clear that Thaksin could not resist the temptation to stay away from politics. Last month, he held talks with resistance groups in Myanmar, forcing Thailand’s foreign minister to clarify that the talks were Not a Thai government policy To neighboring countries. Meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim Last month, he also traveled around Malaysia. Please Thailand The political bigwigs clearly want to isolate Kadima in the next election.

Last month, Thailand’s attorney general announced that Thaksin would be prosecuted for violating the Royal Criticism Act, which carries a sentence of three to 15 years in prison and is frequently used against activists, most recently against protesters in Bangkok in 2020.

Political uncertainty in Thailand has unnerved investors. According to Bloomberg, the Thai stock index has fallen about 16% over the past year, making it the worst performing benchmark globally over the same period.

The initial charges against Thaksin were brought in 2015 by Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, then deputy defense minister for the military junta that seized power in a coup a year earlier. An arrest warrant was issued for Thaksin, but by then he had emigrated.

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