Former Thai PM Thaksin indicted on charge of royal defamation as court cases stir political woes

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BANGKOK (AP) — Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was granted bail shortly after being formally charged on Tuesday with defaming the monarchy in one of several legal cases affecting Thai politics.

Thaksin, a significant political figure despite his removal from power 18 years ago, turned himself in to prosecutors on Tuesday morning and was charged, according to Prayuth Bejraguna, a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General, during a press briefing.

A vehicle believed to be transporting Thaksin arrived at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, but he did not appear to speak with journalists. His lawyer, Winyat Chatmontree, informed the press that Thaksin was prepared to engage in the legal proceedings. The same vehicle departed from the court a few hours later following Thaksin’s bail approval, although he did not engage with waiting reporters. Later on, the Criminal Court announced that Thaksin’s bail had been granted, requiring a 500,000 baht ($13,000) bond and prohibiting him from leaving Thailand without court permission.

A subsequent court statement outlined various reasons for granting bail, such as Thaksin’s age, his permanent residence in Thailand, and the lack of objection from the prosecutor. Additionally, it was noted that his passport had been seized.

Lese majeste, the law concerning defamation of the monarchy, carries a penalty of three to 15 years in prison. This law is one of the strictest globally and has increasingly been utilized in Thailand to penalize critics of the government.

Thaksin, now 74, was overthrown by a military coup in 2006, triggering years of intense political division. His adversaries, who were predominantly royalists, accused him of corruption, abuse of power, and disrespect toward the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in 2016.

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