Ex-Thai PM Thaksin to face trial for royal insult

May 30, 2024
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets his supporters after landing at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport on August 22, 2023. — AFP

BANGKOK: Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be prosecuted for insulting the monarchy, the attorney general´s office said on Wednesday, over comments he made almost a decade ago.


Prayuth Pecharakun, spokesman for the attorney general, said Thaksin would be summoned to court on June 18 to answer charges under the kingdom´s strict lese-majeste laws.

Thaksin, 74, is a two-time premier who was ousted in a 2006 coup and then lived in self exile for 15 years.

He returned to Thailand last year as his Pheu Thai party took power at the head of a coalition government.

“The attorney general has decided to indict Thaksin for insulting the monarchy,” Prayuth told reporters.

“The attorney general cannot bring him to court today, as his (Thaksin´s) lawyer said he has Covid.” Thaksin also faces prosecution under the Computer Crimes Act, the spokesman said.

Thailand has some of the world´s strictest royal defamation laws protecting King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his close family, with each charge bringing a potential 15-year prison sentence.

Thaksin´s lawyer, Winyat Chatmontree, said he would fight the charges.

“He is ready to prove his innocence in the justice system,” Winyat told reporters.

Critics say the lese-majeste laws are abused to stifle legitimate political debate, and there has been a spike in their use since youth-led anti-government street protests in 2020 and 2021. More than 270 people have been charged with lese-majeste since the protests, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.