Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is eligible for parole which may see him freed potentially without having to spend a single night in jail despite the eight-year prison handed down on him for corruption and abuse of power, according to justice authorities.
They also confirmed that Thaksin is still being treated at the Police General Hospital. They said a representative of the ombudsman met Thaksin while recently visiting the 14th floor of the hospital where he has reportedly been staying.
Thaksin ended his 15-year self-exile last August and was sentenced by the Supreme Court to eight years in jail for corruption and abuse of power. The sentence was subsequently reduced to one year by royal commutation.
Only hours after being taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison to serve his term, Thaksin was moved to the Police General Hospital for “health problems” and has remained there since.
Speaking at a press conference, Somboon Muangklam, an advisor to justice minister, dismissed rumours that Thaksin has already left the hospital and is staying elsewhere. He indicated that Thaksin will continue to receive treatment at the hospital.
Sitthi Sutivong, a deputy director general of the Corrections Department, told the same press conference that given his age and health conditions Thaksin is eligible to parole under a new regulation that is going to take effect soon.
Justice authorities have said that the new regulation is designed to relieve prison overcrowding and not to benefit any specific individuals. Under the regulation, prisoners who are 70 years old and over, handicapped and suffering from serious illnesses are eligible for parole.
There has been speculation that Thaksin could be out on parole as early as February, meaning that he would not be transferred back to prison to serve his term.
Officials of the Corrections Department have reported that Thaksin, who is 74, is suffering from a series of illnesses and needs to remain at the Police General Hospital to avoid possible life-threatening complications.