Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has commuted the eight-year prison sentence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to one year, according to the royal gazette published on Friday. Thaksin, who returned to Thailand last week after 15 years of self-imposed exile, was convicted of corruption and abuse of power during his time in office.
Thaksin, 74, is a billionaire telecoms tycoon and the founder of the Pheu Thai party, which won the general election in August and formed a coalition government with pro-military and conservative parties. His return was seen as part of a political deal to end the long-standing rivalry between his supporters and opponents, which has led to two coups and several protests in the past two decades.
The royal gazette said that Thaksin “was a prime minister, has done good for the country and people and is loyal to the monarchy”. It also noted that he “respected the process, admitted his guilt, repented, accepted court verdicts” and that he is “old, has illness that needs care from medical professionals”. Thaksin was transferred to a police hospital on the first night of his imprisonment due to chest pains and high blood pressure.