Thaksin gets a bail-out: Ex-PMwalks free on 500,000 baht bond

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Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra walked free today after the Criminal Court granted him bail of 500,000 baht, following his arraignment on lese-majeste and computer crime charges.

Thaksin appeared before public prosecutors early this morning and was promptly taken to the Criminal Court for his arraignment, confirmed Prayut Phetcharakhun, spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney-General. The court accepted the case at precisely 8.56am, officially naming Thaksin as a defendant.

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Despite the serious charges, the former Thai PM denied all allegations, asserting his intention to fight the case in court. The court ordered him to surrender his passport and imposed a travel ban unless permission was granted.

Thaksin’s indictment follows a decision by the Office of the Attorney-General late last month. Originally set for an earlier date, the proceedings were delayed to today, June 18, due to Thaksin’s bout with Covid-19. The 74 year old stands accused of defaming the monarchy during a 2015 interview with South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, where he claimed privy councillors backed the 2014 coup that ousted his sister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

The complaint, lodged by then-Deputy Defence Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr, led to the Office of the Attorney-General pursuing legal action against Thaksin. The Criminal Court accepted the case in 2015, issuing an arrest warrant for the exiled leader, who only returned to Thailand last August.

Thaksin is charged under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, Thailand’s stringent lese-majeste law, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years per offence. Additionally, he faces charges under the Computer Crimes Act for allegedly inputting information that threatened national security.

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Attorney-General Amnat Chetcharoenrak affirmed the decision to indict Thaksin on both counts. If denied bail, Thaksin could have faced pre-trial detention. However, the court deemed there were sufficient grounds to believe he would not flee, tamper with evidence, or obstruct proceedings, allowing his release on bail, reported Bangkok Post.

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