Thaksin Will Defend His Case, Won’t Flee This Time, Thai PM Says

(Bloomberg) -- Former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra will stay in the country to fight a royal defamation charge, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin reassured on Tuesday, allaying any fears that he would flee as he did 16 years ago.

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Thaksin “is ready to fight and won’t go anywhere,” Srettha told reporters on Tuesday when asked if he thinks the ex-premier who will be indicted in a decade-old lese majeste case on June 18 will stay this time. In 2008, Thaksin who faced corruption charges fled with his family. He lived in exile until he returned in August last year.

Prosecutors last month said they have enough evidence to indict the 74-year-old former leader under the country’s lese majeste law that protects the royal family from criticism. The charges stem from an interview Thaksin gave in Seoul in 2015 that prosecutors deemed had breached Article 112 of Thailand’s penal code, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years for each offense of defaming the monarchy.

The case poses a fresh jail risk for Thaksin, who is currently on parole after being sentenced in corruption cases. He’s due to walk free after his royally commuted jail term ends in August. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra who was overthrown by a coup remains in exile after leaving Thailand in 2017 ahead of a verdict.

Thaksin returned to Thailand from a 15-year exile in what was seen as part of a deal with the then military establishment that ousted him and his sister.

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