Jailed former Thai government head Thaksin Shinawatra, the detained former Thai government head, may be released over the weekend, according to the Ministry of Justice. The 74-year-old is among a group of 930 inmates who will be released early due to their advanced age or critical condition, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said Tuesday. Thaksin may need to wear an ankle bracelet and his freedom of travel may be restricted.
Thaksin, the controversial billionaire twice elected head of government and deposed in a military coup in 2006, was sentenced to eight years in prison in August for corruption. He was later pardoned and his prison sentence was reduced to one year. After 15 years in self-imposed exile, Thaksin returned to Thailand in August and was immediately imprisoned there. He was transferred to the police hospital a short time later.
The media entrepreneur, a critic of Thailand’s pro-military and royalist establishment who ruled the country from 2001 to 2006 before being ousted by the military, still wields great influence over the kingdom’s politics. From 2008, Thaksin lived in exile, most of the time in Dubai. He has been polarizing the country for over two decades with his support for the “red shirts” against the “yellow shirts” (monarchists).
His return to Thailand coincided with the Pheu Thai party’s return to government. Pheu Thai had formed an alliance with many parties affiliated with the military. This had led to speculation that an agreement had been reached to shorten Thaksin’s prison sentence.