Thailand's Senate rejects political amnesty bill


Thaksin Shinawatra in London in 2007.



Thailand’s Senate rejected a controversial bill on Monday that would have provided amnesty for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled the country rather than face corruption charges after he was ejected from office in a military coup in 2008. He currently lives in Dubai.

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All 141 senators present voted against the bill, which pardoned crimes committed by people involved in political unrest since 2004.

The legislation was passed by the lower house on Nov. 1. Thaksin’s critics claimed the former leader’s allies crafted the bill to allow him to return to Thailand without serving jail time.

"This bill violates the rule of law. All laws must be equal for everyone," Senator Manoj Kraiwong said in the debate on Monday, which was televised.

An estimated 15,000 people took to the streets of Bangkok on Monday to protest the bill, causing more than a dozen schools to close out of concerns for student safety. Nearly 7,000 police officers were placed around the parliament to maintain order.

Thailand’s Prime Minister – and Thaksin’s sister – Yingluck Shinawatra said that the ruling party would drop the bill if the Senate rejected it.