Former Thailand Prime Minister and Manchester City owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, is expected to be released from prison as soon as this weekend after just six months behind bars, The Guardian reports.
The 74-year-old returned from a 15-year self-imposed exile in August last year to serve a prison sentence for corruption and abuse of power committed while in office.
However, reporters in Bangkok were told that the former premier is one of 930 inmates who qualified for early release, falling under the category of those with serious illnesses, disabled, or over the age of 70.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin defended the release, stating it follows Corrections Department rules as he has already served his time, and praised Thaksin as a popular figure who served the country.
The billionaire former Prime Minister is currently serving a one-year sentence (reduced from eight years) in a Bangkok hospital for alleged corruption. But he maintains the charges are politically motivated.
After sentencing, he was transferred to the hospital over chest tightness, high blood pressure and low oxygen levels, according to the Thai Corrections Department.
Thaksin rose to power in 2001 through his populist-minded political party but was ousted in a 2006 military coup.
After being displaced as Prime Minister, Thaksin forked out £81.6 million to purchase Man City in 2007 but only lasted a year as owner before selling the club to investors from Abu Dhabi United Group for over £200m.
Thaksin also fled Thailand to avoid arrest in 2008. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, followed in his footsteps as Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014 when she left office shortly before another coup that installed a military government.
Thaksin’s recent return to Thailand after a 15-year absence coincides with the election victory of the Pheu Thai party, considered an extension of the party he founded as Thai Rak Thai, where he is still regarded the de facto leader.
Though granted parole, an investigation into alleged monarchy defamation threatens to curtail his newfound freedom. If the Office of the Attorney General decides to go ahead with the indictment, Thaksin could face renewed detention.
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