Thai king cuts former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sentence to one year

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn has reduced the sentence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (C, shaking hands) to one year, after his return from 15 years in self-imposed exile last month. File Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has reduced the sentence imposed on former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to one year in a move that was widely expected upon Thaksin's return from self-imposed exile last month.

Thaksin's return had led to speculation that the king would issue a pardon or commute his sentence.

After returning to Thailand, Thaksin was arrested and ostensibly given an eight-year sentence but was quickly moved from prison to a hospital after complaining of health issues.

The pro-government newspaper the Royal Gazette published a document Friday stating that Thaksin "has respected the judicial process," and that he "accepted his crime and showed remorse."

The document published in the newspaper pointed out Thaksin's health issues and said "with His Majesty's graciousness, he has reduced the sentence of the male inmate Thaksin Shinawatra to one year."

During his time in office, Thaksin was known for brutal anti-drug policies and a crackdown on the Islamist insurgency in parts of the nation's southern regions.

Thaksin was deposed by the military in a 2006 coup. After being deposed, Thaksin was convicted of multiple corruption charges by the Thai Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office, with sentences adding up to 12 years in total.

Thaksin's return to Thailand coincided with the election of Thaksin's ally, Srettha Thavisin, to the office of prime minster in August. Thavisin ran as a member of the Pheu Thai Party, which was founded by Thaksin.

In order to secure power, Thavisin, who ran on a platform opposing military rule, forged an alliance with former opponents who had supported military rule.