Thaksin Shinawatra is one of many convicts whose stays at hospital can be extended based on the judgement of relevant authorities and doctors, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said on Thursday.
Mr Tawee was responding to a report that the Department of Corrections had allowed Thaksin to stay longer at Police General Hospital after having been there for 30 days. Thaksin was transferred from Bangkok Remand Prison to the hospital on the first night after his return to the country on Aug 22.
The justice minister said that the director-general of the Department of Corrections had the power to extend an inmate’s stay at hospital based on recommendations from doctors.
“Many other convicts have been treated outside their prison for longer than 30 days. Thaksin is not the only case of this kind,” the minister said.
A stay at hospital for longer than 60 days will need approval from the permanent secretary for justice and a period exceeding 120 days must be backed by the justice minister. Such approvals must be based mainly on the recommendations of relevant doctors, Mr Tawee explained.
The minister said he neither knew the reason behind Thaksin’s operation last week nor had any details in his current condition because he had not discussed the matter with the corrections director-general.
Pol Lt Gen Dr Sophonrat Singhajaru, chief physician at Police General Hospital, said on Tuesday that Thaksin had undergone surgery last week for several reasons. He did not elaborate in keeping with patient confidentiality.
Thaksin is known to have high blood pressure as well as heart and respiratory problems and other ailments associated with old age.
On Monday, activists demanded an update on Thaksin’s health, saying it had been nearly a month since he was taken to the hospital. He was admitted just 13 hours after he was committed to prison, where he is serving a one-year sentence.
Also on Monday, the Department of Corrections said that Thaksin would have to serve at least six months in prison, or until late February, before applying for parole.
Thaksin, 74, returned to Thailand on the morning of Aug 22 after 15 years in self-exile. He had been convicted and sentenced and charged with fresh offences during his absence.
The same day the Supreme Court ordered him imprisoned for eight years for the three finalised cases. However, he was transferred from Bangkok Remand Prison around 2am the next morning to Police General Hospital for health reasons.
His jail term was subsequently reduced to one year by His Majesty the King.
“Thaksin is not the only case of this kind,” says Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong