DThe imprisoned former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to be released from prison in just a few days. As Thailand's Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong confirmed according to media reports, the 74-year-old politician is qualified for early release because he is over 70 years old, is sick and has already completed six months of his one-year prison sentence.

Till Fähnders

Political correspondent for South and Southeast Asia and Australia.

His name is therefore among a total of 930 prisoners who are expected to be released next weekend, the minister said on Tuesday, according to the Bangkok Post newspaper. The minister continued that it was normal procedure under the current rules.

Thaksin, who became rich with a telecommunications company, was prime minister from 2001 to 2006 until he was overthrown in a military coup. In 2008 he was sentenced in absentia to several years in prison for corruption.

Archenemy of the conservative forces in the military and monarchy

After 15 years in exile, he returned in August 2023, on the day his confidant, the entrepreneur Srettha Thavisin, was elected prime minister by parliament. A judge sentenced Thaksin to eight years in prison. A little later the king reduced the prison sentence to one year.

The police hospital in Bangkok where Thaksin is serving his prison sentence

The police hospital in Bangkok where Thaksin is serving his prison sentence

Image: EPA

Thaksin was the archenemy of the conservative forces in the military and monarchy. Observers assume that he reached an agreement with them before his return that saved him from prolonged imprisonment. In addition to the Pheu Thai Party, which is led by Thaksin, the coalition alliance currently in power under Srettha also includes parties with connections to the former military regime. However, its representatives today feel more threatened by the young democracy movement.

As a result, the reform-oriented Move Forward Party became the strongest force in the 2023 election, but the party was ultimately prevented from forming a government. Some Thaksin opponents have protested against the “special treatment” of the prominent prisoner. He spent his prison time in a police hospital. “The past is the past. Everything goes according to the law,” said Srettha.