Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was swiftly arrested, taken to court and jailed after he landed back home in Thailand after 15 years in self-imposed exile.
Thaksin, who made his fortune in the telecommunications business, boarded a private plane in Singapore and landed at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport shortly after 9am (02:00 GMT) on Tuesday, according to Thailand’s Khaosod Media and Thai PBS.
Thaksin paid his respects to the king on his arrival and shortly afterwards was taken in a police convoy to the Supreme Court where he was charged with abuse of power and several other outstanding criminal offences, which he has described as politically motivated.
“Welcome back to Thailand daddy,” daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra posted on Instagram beneath a photograph of the family, adding that he had “entered the legal process”.
He was later taken to a Bangkok prison, with the Supreme Court releasing a statement saying he would serve a total of eight years in jail, the Reuters news agency reported.
Thaksin swept to power in 2001 on a populist platform that appealed to rural Thais who had long been neglected by the country’s ruling elites. He was returned in a landslide five years later but, in September 2006, when Thaksin was in New York preparing to address the United Nations, the military seized power.
Thaksin, who was also accused of serious human rights abuses amid a violent conflict in the country’s mostly Muslim southern provinces, and a ‘drugs war’ that left thousands dead, was later convicted of abuse of power and went into exile in 2008, spending most of his time in Dubai.
Thailand has been beset by political turmoil since the 2006 coup, with pro-Thaksin and rival pro-establishment supporters taking to the streets, amid a cycle of elections and coups.