Thai court jails ex-PM Thaksin for 8 years as he returns from exile
Updated 14:43, 22-Aug-2023

Thailand's Supreme Court on Tuesday jailed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for eight years, as he returned to the country after going into self-imposed exile in 2008. 

The sentence relates to three convictions passed on the 74-year-old in absentia, the court said in a statement. The statute of limitations on another conviction has expired, otherwise he would have to serve 10 years.

Thaksin, the billionaire figurehead of the populist juggernaut Pheu Thai Party, fled abroad 15 years ago before he was jailed in absentia for abuse of power. He was accused of corruption and disloyalty to the monarchy, which he refutes.

Thaksin appeared briefly with family members at a private jet terminal at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport, smiling and waving to hundreds of supporters, before he was escorted in a police convoy to the Supreme Court, then taken to prison.

As he emerged from the airport wearing a black suit, red tie and yellow lapel pin bearing a royal insignia, Thaksin clasped his hands together and bowed in a traditional "wai" greeting before a portrait of the king and queen.

The vaunted arrival of Thailand's most famous politician came as the lower house and Senate convened ahead of a vote later on Tuesday on prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin, a real estate mogul who was thrust into politics by Pheu Thai just a few months ago.

Thailand has been under a caretaker government since March and its new parliament has been deadlocked for weeks after the anti-establishment winner of a May election, Move Forward, were blocked by conservative lawmakers, leaving heavyweight Pheu Thai to lead a new effort.

(Cover: Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrives at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, August 22, 2023. /CFP)

(With input from Reuters, AFP)

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