Former Thai Prime Minister faces accusations of insulting the royal family

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be prosecuted for insulting the monarchy, the country’s Attorney General said.

The controversial political leader, who returned to Thailand last year after 15 years in exile, is being charged over an interview he gave to a South Korean newspaper nine years ago.

He is the highest-ranking figure to face charges under Thailand’s notorious lese majeste law, which is widely used against dissidents.

Hundreds of people have been charged in the past four years alone.

A major figure in Thai politics, Mr. Thaksin’s return to the country last year appeared to end a fierce political rivalry between his family and conservative groups that feared his populist leadership style. your.

In what looked like a grand bargain, his party was allowed to form a coalition government with some of his political opponents, aiming to push out the vote-winning young reformist Move Forward party. and the most seats in the 2023 election.

But the decision to prosecute the 74-year-old former prime minister under the harsh lese majeste law shows that he still has many enemies among Thailand’s powerful royalists.

The charges relate to an interview he gave to a Korean newspaper in 2015 while living in exile.

In that article, he accused the king’s top advisory body, the privy council, of helping carry out the 2014 military coup that toppled the government led by his sister Yingluck.

Yingluck Shinawatra, elected in the 2011 general election, led Thailand for three years before being ousted by a coup.

The Privy Council is not technically governed by lese majeste laws, but today it is often interpreted broadly to cover any opinions that might reflect negatively on the royal family.

More than 270 people have been charged under the law since mass protests four years ago, in which the monarchy came under unprecedented public criticism.

Mr. Thaksin’s lawyers said they were confident in defending him in court; but given the usual length of time before he is likely to stand trial, this indictment may force him to limit his political ambitions.


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