Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister, returned home on Tuesday, August 22nd, after spending 17 years in self-imposed exile under a looming prison sentence.
Thaksin arrived at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok at around 9:00 AM today in his private jet.
His return coincides with a parliamentary meeting to select Thailand’s 30th prime minister after the election on May 14th. The Pheu Thai Party, which is closely associated with Thaksin, will propose its candidate Srettha Thavisin to hopefully take the top leadership role after parting ways with its former coalition led by the election-winning Move Forward Party.
Hundreds of Thaksin’s supporters had gathered at the airport since early morning to celebrate his homecoming.
After stepping through the private jet terminal gate, Thaksin paid homage to the image of His Majesty the King on Thai soi for the first time in 17 years. He was surrounded by a crowd of Red Shirt supporters and Pheu Thai Party members.
Thaksin, 74, fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid serving jail time for corruption and misconduct charges. He had been ousted as prime minister by the military in a coup the previous year, and he vehemently argued that the charges against him were all politically motivated.
Judiciary spokesman Sorawit Limparangsi said on Monday, August 21st, that Thaksin would be taken to the Supreme Court to hear the ruling after his arrival. The hearing will not be broadcast, and a press release will be issued after the hearing.
Thaksin faces jail sentences of 10 years in three cases in which he was convicted in absentia by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.
He is expected to be held at Bangkok Remand Prison while proceeding with judicial procedures.