Royal pardon for ex-PM Thaksin?

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The unseated ex-Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, is eligible to request a royal pardon upon his return to the country. When he returns, he would be imprisoned but can request a pardon, according to the acting Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam in an announcement yesterday.

According to the deputy premier, who also holds the interim role of justice minister following the resignation of Somsak Thepsuthin in March, each inmate is allowed to call for a royal pardon, but only after they start serving their prison term.

“All inmates have the right to seek a royal pardon on the first day of imprisonment because this right is available during the time of punishment.”

Wissanu cautioned though that if the appeal for the royal pardon isn’t granted upon submission, the petitioner can only reapply after waiting a two years period.

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Once Thaksin lands on Thailand soil, he will be met with an incarceration order about three previous cases that resulted in a total punishment of ten years in prison, Wissanu stated. Some of the former premier’s cases have exceeded their statutes of limitations while others have yet to reach the inside of a courtroom, such as the case regarding Thaksin’s escape from Thailand.

The announcement of correction officials preparing for Thaksin’s arrival follows the former premier’s pre-disclosed plans of returning on his birthday. Thaksin celebrated his 74th birthday on Wednesday whilst in his self-imposed 15-year exile.

The deputy prime minister also pointed out that, even without a royal pardon, Thaksin’s senior status would result in different treatment from the average inmate. The critically ill are similarly afforded certain advantages like the elderly, a policy common to Thai court sentencing.

“Thaksin, being older than 60 years, will be treated differently from general inmates due to his age.”

The determination of special privilege lies in the hands of the Corrections Department, which suggests that Thaksin’s detention outside the prison is an unlikely scenario unless he is granted a royal pardon, the deputy prime minister asserted.

Wissanu went on to reassure that the formerly ousted prime minister would be allowed to see his family immediately upon arriving at the airport before being escorted to prison reported Bangkok Post.

Deputy Director-General of the Corrections Department, Sitthi Sutheewong, also pointed out yesterday that all new prison entrants are still subjected to a five-day quarantine for Covid-19 surveillance, and that senior inmates like Thaksin are allotted special isolation cells. Additionally, those inmates suffering from long-term health conditions may be transferred to correctional hospitals for adequate healthcare attention.

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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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