Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin has lived in exile since 2008. In absentia, he was convicted in several criminal cases. Now he has returned to his homeland. The police drove him straight to the Supreme Court.
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has returned to his homeland after 15 years in exile. A private jet with Thaksin on board landed at Don Mueang Airport in the capital Bangkok this morning, Thai media reported.
Thai TV channels showed live how he came out of the terminal with his daughter, greeted his waiting supporters and bowed to a portrait of the Thai royal couple. He was then taken to the Supreme Court by the police. The court then confirmed three prison sentences that had been imposed on him during his absence, it said. Accordingly, Thaksin has to go to prison for eight years.
A police van assigned to transport former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrives at Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison.
Return shortly before vote on new prime minister
Thaksin’s return comes hours ahead of another parliamentary vote on the prime minister. The Pheu Thai party, which he supports, wants to come to power with the real estate magnate Srettha Thavisin as its candidate, which came second in the election. Thaksin said his return had nothing to do with the vote expected later that day.
Thaksin was elected prime minister in 2001, was overthrown in a military coup in 2006 and fled to exile in London. After returning in the meantime, he went into exile again in 2008 and has lived in Dubai, among other places, since then. Thaksin was convicted in absentia on several criminal cases, including corruption. He criticized that as politically motivated.
But political observers doubt the 74-year-old billionaire will spend much time behind bars. In Thailand, convicts over the age of 70 can apply for parole or a royal pardon.