Former Thai PM Thaksin to be charged with royal insult

A woman holding a picture of former Thai prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. The military government has pursued supporters of the Shinawatras and has jailed several leaders of the political movement that backed them.
A woman holding a picture of former Thai prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. The military government has pursued supporters of the Shinawatras and has jailed several leaders of the political movement that backed them.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A-G did not give details as to how he had insulted the monarchy

BANGKOK • Thailand's ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be charged with royal insult and computer crimes, the junta's attorney-general said yesterday, a day after a court issued a second arrest warrant for his sister.

Thaksin, whose populist movement's struggle with the Thai establishment has dominated politics for more than a decade, lives in exile after fleeing Thailand to escape a jail sentence for corruption after he was overthrown in a 2006 coup.

His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, overthrown as prime minister in 2014, fled Thailand in August to avoid conviction in a criminal negligence case she said was politically motivated. She was sentenced to jail for five years in absentia.

Attorney-General Khemchai Chutiwong did not give details as to how exactly Thaksin had insulted the monarchy, which is protected by a stringent lese majeste law.

"This is a criminal case," he told a news conference. "Right now, it remains to find the individual."

It was not clear whether the attorney-general's office was referring to accusations of royal defamation against Thaksin that Thai police said they were investigating after he gave an interview to South Korean media in 2015.

Republishing details of an alleged offence to the monarchy could also be a crime under a law that sets a sentence of up to 15 years for each offence of royal insult.

A criminal court issued a second arrest warrant for Yingluck on Thursday for violating immigration law during her escape.

Separately, a filing with Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday that shares worth more than US$500 million (S$684 million) in Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank have been transferred on behalf of King Maha Vajiralongkorn from the Crown Property Bureau, which manages palace assets.

The filing by the Crown Property Bureau did not identify the ultimate beneficiary of the shares, nor did it indicate if any money had been paid for the shares.

The transfer took place on Oct 2, the filing said.

The king has undertaken a reform of palace finances since taking the throne late last year after the death of his revered father.

The Crown Property Bureau confirmed the transaction but declined to comment on how the transfer fit with the reform.

"It is his majesty's private affair, so I cannot comment further," said an official of the Crown Property Bureau.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Former Thai PM Thaksin to be charged with royal insult'. Print Edition | Subscribe