Ex-Thai PM Thaksin returns home after years in exile

Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned home Tuesday after spending years in self-imposed exile and entered a prison in Bangkok to serve an eight-year sentence.

Thaksin’s private jet landed at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport amid tight security around 9 a.m. After arriving at the airport, he was transferred to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, live TV footage showed.

The former prime minister’s return coincided with the Pheu Thai party, Thaksin’s political vehicle, seeking to form a new government in a parliamentary vote with other parties, including its former rivals.

After leaving the terminal gate for private jets, Thaksin paid respects in front of a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and greeted supporters. He was transferred to the Supreme Court and later to prison, according to TV footage.

The court stated that Thaksin began serving his eight-year sentence on corruption charges, among others.

Thaksin served as Thailand’s prime minister from February 2001 until September 2006, when he was toppled by a military coup while visiting the United States.

He returned to Thailand briefly in February 2008 and left again in August 2008. While in exile, he lived primarily in Dubai and was convicted in absentia on the charges.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga