Thaksin taken to hospital hours after being jailed on return to Thailand

Prison officials say concerns about the former prime minister’s blood pressure and blood oxygen levels prompted the move.

Thaksin smiling and shaking hands with supporters after arriving in Bangkok. Everyone looks happy.
Thaksin Shinawatra returned home to Thailand on Tuesday [Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was transferred to a hospital overnight, hours after returning to Thailand after some 15 years in exile and being jailed on a series of criminal charges.

The Corrections Department said in a statement that the 74-year-old Thaksin had been taken to Bangkok’s police hospital in the early hours of Wednesday amid concerns about his blood pressure and low blood oxygen levels.

“He has several diseases that need to be taken care of – in particular heart diseases, and the prison hospital does not have the right equipment,” Sitthi Sutivong, a Corrections Department spokesman, said in a statement.

“The doctor said that to avoid the risk that could endanger his life, he should be sent to the Police hospital.”

Thaksin, a billionaire who was prime minister until he was removed from office in a coup in 2006, flew into Bangkok on a private jet on Tuesday morning, as his Pheu Thai party prepared to form a new government with several political parties, including some aligned with the military.

Srettha Thavisin, the party’s choice as prime minister, secured parliamentary backing on Tuesday evening and royal endorsement on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court jailed Thaksin for eight years after convictions for abuse of power and conflicts of interest shortly after he returned home.

Srettha’s ascent to the top job had added to speculation that Thaksin, who remains highly influential despite his years in exile, had struck a deal with his foes in the military and political establishment for his safe return and, possibly, an early release from jail.

Thaksin and Pheu Thai have denied any agreement. A minister in the outgoing government said previously that Thaksin could be eligible for a royal pardon and better treatment because of his age.

The new coalition led by Pheu Thai shuts out the progressive Move Forward Party (MFP), which won the most seats in the election on its promises of radical reform including to royal defamation laws.

Its leader Pita Limjaroenrat was blocked from becoming prime minister, which requires the support of the military-appointed upper house.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies