Thaksin Shinawatra is in a private room on the medical ward of Bangkok Remand Prison and being monitored around the clock because of four underlying health conditions including heart and lung problems, the head of the Department of Corrections said on Tuesday.
Ayuth Sintoppant briefed journalists on the department’s plans for the 74-year-old inmate after the former prime minister was brought to the prison following his sentencing to eight years in jail by the Supreme Court earlier in the day — Thaksin’s first back in Thailand in 15 years.
Mr Ayuth said the prison would provide proper security for Thaksin and ensure appropriate living conditions, food, drinking water and visits.
Since Thaksin is likely to be visited by family members, close associates and people from various organisations, he will be provided with an appropriate space to meet with them.
Moreover, since Thaksin is an elderly person, his health will be closely monitored to ensure proper medical care.
Doctors from the Department of Corrections Hospital have examined Thaksin and found him to have four underlying diseases, said Sitthi Sutivong, deputy director-general of the department.
In accordance with procedure for elderly prisoners with illnesses, Thaksin initially has been put in a separate room on Zone 7, the medical centre of the Bangkok Remand Prison, where he will be monitored around the clock.
It has been widely speculated that the former premier wants his stay behind bars to be as short as possible. He is eligible to apply for a royal pardon from his first day in jail, Mr Sitthi said. The petition may be prepared by Thaksin himself or his relatives.
When a petition is submitted, it will be considered by a committee of the Department of Corrections. The committee will then send it to the Justice Ministry and the prime minister before being forwarded to His Majesty the King for consideration.
Mr Sitthi said there are two types of royal pardons — for people in general and for individuals. Thaksin is in the second category. The entire process may be completed in one to two months, depending on the documents attached and royal discretion.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the government’s legal expert, said earlier that if a pardon is not granted, the applicant has to wait two years before seeking one again.
Wattanachai Mingbancherdsuk, director of the Department of Corrections Hospital, said Thaksin’s medical records indicate he suffers from four underlying conditions — heart disease, a lung ailment, high blood pressure and spondylosis, or degeneration of the bones and discs in the spine.
In light of those conditions, Thaksin is considered in a vulnerable group, requiring close surveillance, he said.
Nastee Thongplad, chief of the Bangkok Remand Prison, said all inmates, including Thaksin, are required to keep their hair short and wear a white shirt.
The room where Thaksin is staying has electric fans but no air-conditioner, with an adjoining room for doctors, he added.
Other high-profile prisoners currently serving time in Bangkok Remand Prison include Boonsong Teriyapirom, a former commerce minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government. He was sentenced to 48 years after being found guilty of corruption in the government rice-pledging scheme. Following royal pardons and reductions of jail terms on various occasions, his term has been shortened and he is due to be released on April 21, 2028.
Also serving time is Tarit Pengdit, former director-general of the Department of Special Investigation. He was sentenced to two years in jail by the Supreme Court for unfairly pursuing murder charges against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for ordering the crackdown on red-shirt protesters during the violent rallies in Bangkok in 2010.