Thaksin ready to fight ‘baseless’ case

Thaksin ready to fight ‘baseless’ case

Paroled ex-PM confirms he will report June 18 to answer lese-majeste charge

Thaksin ready to fight ‘baseless’ case
Supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra wait for him outside the headquarters of the Pheu Thai Party in Bangkok on March 26. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday that he was ready to face charges of insulting the monarchy.

Thaksin said he would meet prosecutors on June 18, but he was not concerned about the case and was ready to fight it.

“It’s nothing. The case is baseless,” he told reporters.

The attorney general on May 29 indicted Thaksin on royal defamation under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and computer crime charges arising from an interview given to a Korean newspaper on Feb 21, 2015.

The computer crime charge stems from Thaksin putting information into a computer system that was deemed a threat to national security.

However, prosecutors could not arraign Thaksin as planned on May 29 because his lawyer said he had Covid-19 and needed to rest. He has since recovered.

Thaksin was alleged to have defamed the monarchy while speaking with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, when he claimed privy councillors supported the 2014 coup that ousted the government of his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thaksin, 74, denies wrongdoing and has repeatedly pledged loyalty to the crown, criticism of which is forbidden under one of the strictest laws of its kind in the world.

His is the most high-profile case among more than 270 prosecutions in the past four years under the law, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years for each perceived insult against the royal family.  

The original complaint about the interview was made in 2015 by Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, then deputy defence minister in the military government of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Gen Udomdej instructed the Judge Advocate General’s Department to bring legal action against Thaksin. A lawsuit was subsequently filed by the Office of the Attorney General. The Criminal Court accepted the case for trial in 2015 and issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin, who was still abroad and did not return to Thailand until August last year.

He returned to Thailand in August last year and was sentenced to eight years in prison — later reduced to one year on a royal pardon — for abuse of authority and conflict of interest while in office from 2001-06. He never spent a single night behind bars and was granted parole after spending six months at the Police General Hospital.