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Thaksin Shinawatra: Former Man City owner and Thailand prime minister granted parole | World News

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Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand and Manchester City owner, has been granted parole after six months in prison.

Thaksin, 74, returned from a 15-year self-imposed exile in August last year to serve a prison sentence for corruption and abuse of power committed while in office.

Justice minister Tawee Sodsong announced the ruling on Tuesday, and while he did not confirm the date that Thaksin will be released, it is expected it could be as soon as this weekend.

The official also told reporters in Bangkok that the former premier is one of 930 inmates who qualified for early release who have serious illnesses, are disabled or are over the age of 70.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin added after a cabinet meeting that Thaksin’s parole is in line with Corrections Department rules as he has already served his time.

The premier also praised his predecessor as “one of the most popular prime ministers in Thai political history” and someone who has long worked for the good of the country.

Thaksin Shinawatra arrives in Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, 22 August 2023. Pic: AP
Image:
Thaksin Shinawatra arrives in Don Muang airport in Bangkok, 22 August 2023. Pic: AP

Thaksin is currently serving a year-long sentence, commuted down from eight, in a police hospital in Bangkok. He has called the charges politically motivated.

After sentencing, he was transferred to the hospital over chest tightness, high blood pressure and low oxygen levels, according to the Thai Corrections Department.

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Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire who used his fortune to build a populist political party, served as prime minister from 2001 to 2006, when he was ousted by a military coup.

After being ousted, he purchased Manchester City in 2007 for £81.6m, before selling the club to investors from Abu Dhabi United Group the next year.

He also fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid arrest. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra then led the country from 2011 to 2014, when she left office shortly before another coup which installed a military government.

Manchester City's former owner Thaksin Shinawatra sits amongst supporters before a match against Manchester United, 30 April 2012. Pic: AP
Image:
Former Man City owner Thaksin sits with supporters before a match against Manchester United, 30 April 2012. Pic: AP

He arrived back in his home country after 15 years the same day Mr Srettha, of the Pheu Thai party, won an election with the support of military-linked parties.

The Pheu Thai party is the latest incarnation of the party Thaksin founded as Thai Rak Thai. He is still considered the de-facto leader of the political group.

While Thaksin has been granted parole, Thai officials said last week they reopened an investigation into allegations of defaming the monarchy made against the former premier almost nine years ago.

If the Office of the Attorney General decides to go ahead with the indictment, Thaksin could be detained again as soon as he is released.

Thaksin’s daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, who heads the Pheu Thai party, said last week she has prepared his residence in Bangkok in anticipation of his release.

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