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Former Prime Minister of Thailand Shinawatra to Face Indictment Over Alleged Monarchy Disrespect

Former prime minister Shinawatra accused of violating the majeste law by disrespecting the monarchy.

The Former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, will face indictment for allegedly disrespecting the monarchy, as announced by the country’s attorney-general.

Shinawatra, who came back to Thailand after 15 years abroad, has been accused of violating the lese majeste law based on an interview he gave to a Korean newspaper nine years ago.

He is the most prominent individual to be targeted under Thailand’s stringent lese majeste law, which has been used frequently against dissenting voices.

Over the past four years, numerous individuals have been prosecuted under this law. Despite being a significant figure in Thai politics, the return of Shinawatra to the country last year seemed to signal the end of the long-standing political rivalry between his family and conservative factions concerned about his populist leadership style.

Initially, it seemed like a significant compromise as his party was permitted to establish a coalition government alongside certain political adversaries.

This arrangement was aimed at preventing the youthful reformist party, Move Forward, which had secured the majority of votes and seats in the 2023 election, from taking power.

However, the recent decision to prosecute the 74-year-old former prime minister under the severe lese majeste law suggests that he still faces opposition from Thailand’s influential royalist establishment.

The charges stem from an interview he conducted with a Korean newspaper in 2015 while he was in exile.

In that article, he accused the top advisory body of the king, the privy council, of being involved in the 2014 military coup that removed his sister Yingluck from power after she led Thailand for three years following her election win in 2011.

While the lese majeste law technically doesn’t cover the privy council, it’s often interpreted broadly nowadays to include any expression that might portray the royal family negatively.

Since mass protests four years ago that saw unprecedented criticism of the monarchy, over 270 people have faced charges under this law.

Shinawatra’s legal team is confident they can defend him in court, but the process before a likely trial could be lengthy, potentially forcing him to scale back his political aspirations.

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