Thaksin Shinawatra, who returned to Thailand from a 15-year self-exile on Tuesday, was moved to a hospital from a Bangkok prison after the former prime minister complained of chest pain and hypertension.
(Bloomberg) — Thaksin Shinawatra, who returned to Thailand from a 15-year self-exile on Tuesday, was moved to a hospital from a Bangkok prison after the former prime minister complained of chest pain and hypertension.
Thaksin, 74, was hospitalized early on Wednesday as the prison’s medical unit was deemed ill-equipped to treat his heart condition, the Department of Corrections said in a statement. While his health has improved, Thaksin still suffered from high blood pressure and needs constant monitoring, Sopnarush Singhajaru, a doctor at the police hospital, told reporters.
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Upon his return to Thailand, the former leader was ordered by the Supreme Court to serve an eight-year jail term for his role in various corruption cases. He was lodged in a private room in the medical ward of Bangkok remand prison.
Thaksin’s homecoming was seen as part of a deal with a military establishment that has repeatedly ousted his political allies over the past two decades. Hours after his return, Srettha Thavisin, a nominee of the coalition headed by Pheu Thai Party, effectively helmed by Thaksin was elected as Thailand’s new prime minister after months of political jockeying following the May general election.
Srettha will now lead an 11-party coalition that includes parties backed by former junta leaders Prawit Wongsuwan and Prayuth Chan-Ocha — who led the coup in 2014 that overthrew a previous Shinawatra-led government. Pheu Thai had finished second to the upstart Move Forward party, which had pushed for changes to a law that restricts criticism of the nation’s powerful monarchy, a stance that that prompted senators to deny its leader Pita Limjaroenrat the premiership.
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Though Thaksin is sentenced to eight years in jail, his prison time may be reduced with a Pheu-Thai-led government expected to fast-track the process for a royal pardon. King Maha Vajiralongkorn has the power to pardon any criminals.
Thaksin is eligible for a royal pardon and either the former leader or any of his relatives can initiate a petition, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam told reporters Wednesday. While it’s not clear if a plea has been initiated already, the process might take one to two months, according to Sitthi Sutivong, deputy director-general of Department of Corrections.
There are no prerequisite conditions to receive a royal pardon and Thaksin can apply for it either as an individual or collectively along with other prisoners, said Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, a lawyer at Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The former leader may seek remission as an individual as group pardons are granted generally during holidays marking royal occasions, she said.
While police and jail officials didn’t say how long Thaksin will remain in the hospital, Wissanu said there’s no set time-frame on medical treatment for prison inmates. Under the rules, Thaksin will have to return to the prison once he fully recovers from his ailments, Poonsuk said.
(Updates with comment from doctor in second paragraph.)
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