Former Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra was accused of defaming the monarchy

BANGKOK (AP) – Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra He was indicted and questioned on Tuesday on charges of defaming the country’s monarchy in one of several court cases that have rocked Thai politics. He was granted bail.

Thaksin is considered the unofficial force behind the party that leads the government, the Pheu Thai Party, despite being ousted from power in a coup 18 years ago.

Prayuth Bijrajona, spokesman for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, said in a press conference that he informed prosecutors on Tuesday morning and was indicted.

Thaksin, 74, voluntarily returned to Thailand last year from self-imposed exile and served almost all of his sentence on corruption-related charges in a hospital rather than in prison. For medical reasons. He was Granting parole In February.

Since then, Thaksin has maintained a high profile, traveling around the country Public appearance And political remarks that could upset the powerful conservative establishment that was behind his ouster in 2006.

His removal from power sparked deep political polarization in Thailand. Thaksin’s opponents, who were generally loyal supporters of the monarchy, accused him of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for then-King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.

Prosecution in the long-standing lese majeste case Some analysts see it as a warning from Thaksin’s enemies that he should moderate his political activities.

Thaksin’s lawyer, Wenyat Chatmontree, told reporters that Thaksin was ready to enter the judicial process. The Criminal Court, where Thaksin appeared after he was charged, said Thaksin had been approved for release on bail with a bail of 500,000 baht ($13,000) on the condition that he could not travel outside Thailand unless the court agreed. His passport was confiscated.

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The defamation of property law, a crime known as lese majeste, is punishable by imprisonment for a period ranging from three to 15 years. It is among the harshest laws globally, and has been increasingly used in Thailand to punish government critics.

Winyatt said his client “is not worried, and always insists that he has done nothing wrong. He came here with full confidence in defending his case.”

Thaksin was originally charged with lèse majeste in 2016 over comments he made a year earlier to reporters in South Korea. The case was not pursued at the time because he went into exile in 2008 to avoid punishment in cases he described as political.

His case is just one of several that have complicated Thai politics since the Pheu Thai government took power after the Senate – a conservative body appointed by the military – Successfully blocked Progressive step forward The party that received the most votes was able to take power last year.

Move Forward now faces a solution After the Election Commission asked the Constitutional Court to rule whether it was guilty of attempting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy through a campaign to amend the lese majeste law.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sritha Thavisin, who is from Pheu Thai He is being investigated regarding his appointment as a member of the Council of Ministers Who was imprisoned on charges of bribery. If found guilty, Sreetha may be forced to leave office.

Thailand’s courts, especially the Constitutional Court, are bulwarks of the monarchy, which it and nominally independent state agencies such as the Election Commission have used to paralyze political opponents.

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The Constitutional Court on Tuesday held procedural hearings on the Move Forward and Shrettha cases, scheduling further proceedings on July 3 in the former case and July 10 in the latter.

The court also ruled on Tuesday that the guidelines for the three phases were partially completed Voting process to choose the new Senate Legal.

The term of the current Senate, appointed by the junta that ousted the previous Pheu Thai government in 2014, expired last month, opening an opportunity to make its membership more democratic.

Forty interim senators were behind the petition against Sreetha, a move seen as favoring a pro-military political party in the coalition government.

This situation is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by Pheu Thai Forming alliances with its old enemiessaid Napon Jatusripitak, a political scientist and visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. It also reflects “the highly lopsided balance of power between elected and non-elected forces in Thailand,” he added.

He added: “Thai democracy has once again become a hostage of forces that are unaccountable to public interests.”

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