Former Thai prime minister Thaksin indicted on a charge of royal defamation

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Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrives at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand on Aug 22, 2023. (AP)

BANGKOK, June 18, (AP): Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was granted release on bail hours after he was formally indicted Tuesday on a charge of defaming the country’s monarchy in one of several court cases that have rattled Thai politics.
Thaksin, an influential political figure despite being ousted from power in a coup 18 years ago, reported himself to prosecutors Tuesday morning and was indicted, Prayuth Bejraguna, a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General, said at a news conference.
Thaksin, 74, voluntarily returned to Thailand last year from self-imposed exile and served virtually all of his sentence on corruption-related charges in a hospital rather than prison on medical grounds. He was granted release on parole in February.
Since then, Thaksin has maintained a high profile and is seen as the unofficial power behind the party leading the government, Pheu Thai. He has traveled the country making public appearances and political observations that could upset the powerful conservative establishment that was behind his 2006 ouster.
His removal from power had started a deep political polarization in Thailand. Thaksin’s opponents, who were generally staunch royalists, accused him of corruption, abuse of power and disrespecting then-King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.
Prosecution of the long-ago lese majeste case is seen by some analysts as a warning from Thaksin’s enemies that he should tone down his political activities.

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