Thaksin released on bail after arraignment
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Thaksin released on bail after arraignment

Prohibited from leaving Thailand without permission

Thaksin Shinawatra is swamped by supporters as he enters the Pheu Thai Party headquarters in March 2024. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Thaksin Shinawatra is swamped by supporters as he enters the Pheu Thai Party headquarters in March 2024. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Criminal Court has released former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on bail of 500,000 baht after he was arraigned on lese-majeste and computer crime charges in connection with comments made during an interview in 2015.

Thaksin reported to public prosecutors on Tuesday morning and was taken to the Criminal Court for arraignment on his lese-majeste case, according to the spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General.

Prayut Phetcharakhun said the court accepted the case at 8.56am on Tuesday, officially making Thaksin a defendant.

Thaksin denied all charges and said he would defend himself in court.

According to the court, the defendant is required to surrender his passport and is prohibited from leaving the country unless permitted. The court has granted bail to Thaksin, based on reasonable grounds that he will not flee, tamper with evidence, commit dangerous acts or obstruct the court's proceedings.

Late last month, the OAG announced its decision to indict Thaksin, who was on parole at the time. The indictment, initially set for an earlier date, was postponed to Tuesday (June 18) because Thaksin had reportedly contracted Covid-19.

Thaksin, 74, is accused of defaming the monarchy during an interview with the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo on May 21, 2015. In the interview, he claimed privy councillors supported the 2014 coup that ousted the government of his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The original complaint about the interview was filed in 2015 by Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, then deputy defence minister in the military government of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Gen Udomdej instructed the Judge Advocate General's Department to take legal action against Thaksin, leading the OAG to file a lawsuit. The Criminal Court accepted the case for trial in 2015 and issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin, who remained abroad and did not return to Thailand until August last year.

Police alleged that the comments made during the interview violated Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese-majeste law, as well as the Computer Crimes Act.

Earlier, the OAG's spokesman said that Attorney-General Amnat Chetcharoenrak had decided to indict Thaksin on both charges, as proposed by police. 

The computer crime charge is related to Thaksin inputting information into a computer system that was deemed a threat to national security.

Thaksin, who denies any wrongdoing, could face pre-trial detention if he is denied bail by the Criminal Court, following the indictment.

The lese-majeste law carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years for each perceived royal insult.

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