Bangkok: Thailand`s government has ruled out
a royal pardon for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra,
according to the justice minister, after strong criticism from
opponents to a reported draft decree.
Thaksin lives abroad to escape a jail term for
corruption, but a cabinet meeting last week reportedly
endorsed a royal pardon that could allow him to return without
serving time, prompting an angry response from his rivals.
"(Thaksin) will not receive any benefit," from this
year`s royal pardon, Justice Minister Pracha Promnok told
reporters last evening.
Royal pardons, which usually exclude convicts found
guilty of drug offences and corruption and those who have not
spent time in prison, are granted each year on King Bhumibol
Adulyadej`s birthday on December 5.
Local media reported last week that this year`s decree --
which needs to be approved by the king -- would be expanded to
apply to "convicts who are at least 60 years old and are
sentenced to under three years in jail".
Thaksin, who was ousted by the army in a 2006 coup, is 62
and lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid a two-year
sentence for graft.
His potential pardon had threatened to inflame existing
tensions in Thailand, with rallies both for and against the
decree held in recent days.
The anti-Thaksin "Yellow Shirt" movement cancelled a
planned demonstration in the capital today "after the justice
minister said the royal pardon will stick with the (standard)
conditions," spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said.