Thaksin’s homecoming is imminent amidst growing tumult over royal motorcades. Threats of further protests over his time in prison and early release also loom large. Daughter Paetongtarn however awaits a joyful family reunion.

It now looks like former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra will be released from prison over the coming weekend. At the same time, there is the possibility of Mr Thaksin being detained and questioned over a 2016 lèse-majesté charge. However, the biggest potential disruptor to Mr Thaksin’s long-awaited return home will be likely protest activity from activists and political foes.

Former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the current leader of the Pheu Thai Party. Mr Thaksin is due to be released on parole and reunited at home with his family this weekend.

The family of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra including his young daughter Paetongtarn or Ung Ing are expecting him home this weekend.

It comes after his release on parole was approved in the last 24 hours.

The Department of Corrections now confirms Thaksin Shinawatra’s eligibility for release under suspended sentence regulations. Director-General Sahakarn Phetnarin has clarified that Thaksin meets the criteria for probation.

Thaksin’s release could well be over the coming weekend. His family including his daughter Paetongtarn, the Pheu Thai Party leader, await a family reunion

This could mean his release over the coming weekend. His daughter Ms Paetongtarn has signalled the family’s delight at the prospect. Mr Thaksin’s home is being readied for a joyful family reunion.

The early release comes under Section 52 of the Corrections Act. In short, it applies to inmates who have served six months or one-third of their sentence. 

Thaksin qualified for suspended sentence consideration.

This came after His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a warmly worded royal pardon to the former Prime Minister. That was just over a week after Thaksin was incarcerated on August 22nd 2023.

Thaksin’s Eight-year prison term commuted to One by the Thai King in a Royal Gazette bulletin

The pardon commuted his eight-year sentence to just one year.

At the same time, Thaksin was removed dramatically on August 22nd 2023 from a prison medical facility to the better-appointed Police General Hospital in the centre of Bangkok.

At length, he has remained there since in a suite on the 14th floor.

Thaksin’s release does not require court approval. He will still be under the supervision of the court as his release is to finish his sentence at home with conditions

‘Thaksin Shinawatra will be released the day after completing six months of his sentence, even on the weekend,’ Mr Sahakarn confirmed this week. At this time, he emphasised the coordination with probation officers for a smooth release.

Prisoners under suspended sentences are not required to obtain court permission for release. Certainly, they remain under the court’s jurisdiction. Mr Thaksin’s release signifies a transition from prison confinement to societal reintegration. It will be initially conditional until his prison term expires in 6 months.

Regarding conditions post-release, the Probation Department outlines behaviour expectations and restrictions.

Notably, inmates aged 70 and above, or those with disabilities, are exempt from wearing electronic monitoring (EM) bracelets. This is due to low recidivism rates.

Article 112 charge from 2016 still dogs Thaksin. However, it is thought this will not disrupt the plan to send him home to his family in the coming days

However, there is a sting in the tail for the former government chief.

In the last week, it has been confirmed that prosecutors are pursuing an Article 112 criminal case against him. In theory, police or investigators could arrest Mr Thaksin after his release.

Nonetheless, this appears unlikely.

What is probable instead is protest activity from activist groups linked with Mr Thaksin’s former political adversaries. They claim that Mr Thaksin has been cosseted by the current government and officials at the highest level. 

On the other hand, decision-makers involved refute such claims. They counter that Mr Thaksin is being treated strictly in accordance with the law.

Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) currently looking at the lèse-majesté case from 2016 against Mr Thaksin. His release will certainly spark protests

As for the Article 112 criminal case against Thaksin, his prosecution is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).

Mr Thaksin may face questioning from police or prosecutors at some point.

Thaksin hit with a bombshell as police pursue a lèse-majesté criminal charge against him from 2016

The Department of Corrections, at this time, says it is adhering strictly to statutory guidelines and procedures.

Undoubtedly, Mr Thaksin’s release will spark outcry from political factions on Thailand’s extreme right.

It is coming at a time with already raised tensions over Article 112 itself. In addition, there is a growing controversy over youth protest activities linked with royal motorcades.

Political tensions have risen sky-high in the last week as young political activists targeted royal motorcades provoking the anger of royalist groups

This saw the arrest and imprisonment of Ms Tantawan Tuatulanon or Ms Tawan of the Thalu Wang group on Tuesday. Ms Tawan was at the centre of a violent confrontation between opposing groups in Bangkok last Sunday. 

Royalist groups and activists are demanding a tough police line on such activities. There are also vocal calls in parliament, broadly agreed, for stronger laws to protect the monarchy.

Violent clashes between royalists and activists in central Bangkok lead to injuries and concern

Mr Natthanon Chaiyamahabutr or ‘Frank’ was also charged and imprisoned with bail requests for both refused on Wednesday. 

The 22-year-old Ms Tawan and Mr Frank were involved in a protest at a royal motorcade on February 4 last.

Both were charged, among other things, with sedition under Article 116 of the Criminal Code.

Press photographer arrested on May 2023 warrant

Police, also this week, arrested a media photographer and news reporter on an arrest warrant dated May 22nd 2023.

Mr Natthaphon Meksopon works with the news outlet Prachatai and was charged with assisting Article 112 protest activities last year. 

Significantly, he was charged under the Ancient Monuments Act. This is because the historic walls at Sanam Luang in Bangkok were defaced with protest messages or graffiti.

In brief, Article 112 is the strictly enforced lèse-majesté law in Thailand. Unquestionably, the Criminal Code provision is both far-reaching in its legal application while also leading to severe jail terms.

Thaksin will want to avoid further political conflict

In January 2024, Mongkol Thirakhot, a political activist, was jailed for 50 years under the provision.

The sentence was handed down by a court in the northern city of Chiang Rai to the clothes seller.

Undoubtedly, Mr Thaksin and his family over the weekend will wish not to be drawn into further political conflict.

Despite this, his daughter Ung Ing is the leader of Pheu Thai, the current ruling political party.

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Further reading:

Ex PM Thaksin hit with a bombshell as police pursue lèse-majesté criminal charge against him from 2016

Thaksin can serve the rest of his prison term at home says Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin

Former PM Thaksin up for release on October 13th as his prison status becomes more controversial

Mr Thaksin helicoptered to Police Hospital at 3am after feeling ill says Department of Corrections

Police worry for Thaksin’s safety on Tuesday after he lands at Don Mueang

Fears of political betrayal abound as Thaksin plans to touchdown at Don Mueang Airport on Tuesday

Thaksin and Pheu Thai have burned their bridges with its national ‘family’ and loyal support base