Hours before parliament voted to appoint his party’s candidate as the new prime minister, Thailand’s divisive ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra was imprisoned on Tuesday when he returned to the country after 15 years in exile.

At 9 am (0200 GMT), the billionaire arrived on a private plane at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport, where he was met by hordes of boisterous “Red Shirt” supporters carrying signs and singing songs.

Shortly after bowing and presenting a floral garland before a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn at the terminal building, Thaksin waved to his followers.

As the previous owner of Manchester City was transported to the Supreme Court, more Red Shirts filled the streets.

He received an eight-year sentence there on three prior convictions

His return coincided with the day that the Pheu Thai party, the most recent iteration of Thaksin’s political movement, is anticipated to form a government and be led by business mogul Srettha Thavisin as prime minister.

Despite the fact that one case’s statute of limitations has passed, Thaksin, 74, was found guilty on four counts while he was not present.

How long Thaksin will remain in prison is unknown, even in the wake of the court decision.

Many have conjectured that a secret deal was made to give him leniency because of the timing of his return, which coincides with the election of his party to power.


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