Pheu Thai Firm Stance on Lese Majeste Amid Thaksin’s Case

On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai restated the Pheu Thai Party’s stance against including offences related to lese majeste in an amnesty proposal, even though former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is currently imprisoned, could be indicted for such crimes.

He emphasized that the ruling party’s stance on the lese majeste law and the idea of granting amnesty for political offences is consistent and unrelated to the charges against Thaksin, who is highly esteemed within the Pheu Thai Party.

Mr. Phumtham noted that Thaksin’s return from voluntary exile in August of the previous year signals his willingness to participate in the judicial process.

There has been speculation about the possibility of Thaksin receiving an early release, especially since he is about to complete half of his sentence by February 18, amidst discussions about the charge of lese majeste.

The Department of Corrections has prepared a list of prisoners eligible for parole or special release, and Thaksin qualifies for the latter.

However, political analysts have suggested that Thaksin might face re-arrest or detention as his case related to insulting the monarchy is being reconsidered by the Office of the Attorney-General.

The case against Thaksin for remarks made in Seoul, South Korea, on May 21, 2015, was presented by the Technology Crime Suppression Division, but the attorney-general has not yet decided on an indictment.

Narinpong Jinaphak, chairman of the Lawyers’ Association of Thailand, mentioned that Thaksin could return home upon receiving early release. Although he will be released early, Thaksin will be under the Department of Corrections’ supervision and thus protected from re-arrest or detention.

Thaksin is obligated to reside at a specific address and check in with the authorities. Should he be indicted, he will have to appear before prosecutors to be formally charged, as explained by Mr. Narinpong.

Former Democrat MP Patchara Phetthong cautioned state officials on Wednesday that they risk being accused of misconduct for aiding Thaksin in evading prison time.

Patchara has submitted a complaint to the National Anti-Corruption Commission against the head of the Department of Corrections, the chief surgeon at the Police General Hospital, and Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong, accusing them of complicity in Thaksin’s prolonged hospital stay outside prison.

Following his return from a lengthy self-imposed exile on August 22 last year, Thaksin was moved to a premium ward at the Police General Hospital just a few hours after being taken to Bangkok Remand Prison, where he has remained amid allegations of receiving special treatment.