Justice minister denies orchestrating Thaksin’s extended hospital stay

Photo taken from Bangkok Post

Justice Minister Pol. Col. Tawee Sodsong has denied any involvement in the Department of Corrections’ (DoC) decision to grant former 74 year old Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra preferential medical treatment outside of prison.

The controversial decision was brought to light during a parliamentary meeting yesterday by Move Forward Party MP, Chonthicha Jangrew, who criticised the DoC’s approval of Thaksin’s extended stay at the Police General Hospital for over 120 days, a privilege not granted to other inmates.

Chonthicha referenced the case of political activist Ekachai Hongkangwan, whose treatment for a liver abscess at a hospital was cut short, resulting in his return to a DoC healthcare facility.

She questioned why Thaksin was permitted to occupy a special room on the 14th floor of the Police General Hospital and sought clarification on the DoC’s new regulation permitting the detention of eligible inmates outside of prison.

In response, Pol. Col. Tawee stated that he had yet to receive a report from the DoC’s director-general on the matter.

Thaksin returned to Thailand on August 22 after a 15-year self-imposed exile and was sentenced to eight years in three cases. However, he was transferred from Bangkok Remand Prison to the Police General Hospital that same night for health reasons and has remained there since.

New detention regulations

Pol Col Tawee said…

“I am not the one who approved the regulation. My duty is to acknowledge it.”

“I also asked doctors [about Thaksin] and they confirmed that he is sick. Corrections officials also confirmed that he is suffering several symptoms, including pain, hypertension and cardiomyopathy.”

He also defended Thaksin’s location in the hospital, stating “[Staying on] the 14th floor of the Police General Hospital is not a privilege. Staying on the 14th floor is for the sake of his safety under the DoC’s regulation.”

Regarding the rule permitting detention outside of prison, Pol Col Tawee clarified that it applies to any prisoners who meet the criteria, not just Thaksin. He also announced plans for a new regulation allowing for the detention of suspects awaiting police questioning outside of prison, with the court retaining the power to approve such detentions.

The minister cited criticisms over prison overcrowding and inadequate prisoner management as triggers for the introduction of these new regulations.

He claimed…

“The Corrections Act was enacted in 2017, but no related regulations were issued in line with the law until recently.”

On December 6, the DoC issued the new rule in accordance with the Corrections Act BE 2560 (2017). The regulation stipulates that prisoners eligible for detention outside of prison must meet certain requirements outlined by the DoC and be categorised by a departmental screening panel.

The approved detention venues may include houses or buildings with registered addresses, reported Bangkok Post.

Politics News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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