A Thai court on Wednesday granted bail of 30,000 dollars (1 million baht) to the son of former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, after he was indicted of money laundering.
This is a case his supporters condemned as politically motivated.
Supporters of the Shinawatras, backed by poor, rural voters, accuse the military government, which took power after a 2014 coup, of seeking to hobble the family and its allies ahead of a general election set for 2019.
The government denies that.
Panthongtae Shinawatra, 38, went to the attorney general’s office to face the indictment, accompanied by both his sisters and many senior members of the Thaksin-backed Puea Thai Party.
“The court has set Nov. 5 as the date for my client to accept or deny the charge,” his lawyer, Chumsai Sriyaphai, said.
Panthongtae also known by his nickname “Oak’’ has always rejected any wrongdoing in this case.
After granting bail, the court ordered Shinawatra not to leave the country without permission.
In a statement earlier, the attorney general said, “ Panthongtae will be prosecuted…on charges of money laundering and conspiring to launder money of the amount of 10 million baht.”
In 2017, authorities formally charged him with having received a cheque of 304,000 dollars (10 million baht) in 2004, in relation to a prior corruption case over fraudulent loans of 9.9 billion baht made by state-owned Krungthai Bank when his father was prime minister.
If found guilty, Panthongtae could face a jail term of up to 10 years.
The 15-year statute of limitations on the crime was set to expire in 2019, had he not been taken to court.
“I believe that Oak did not know the money he received came from wrongdoing,” party member Watana Muangsook said.
Thaksin, whose populist movement’s struggle with the Thai establishment has dominated politics for more than a decade, lives in exile after fleeing Thailand to escape a jail sentence for corruption following his overthrow in a 2006 coup.
His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, overthrown as prime minister in 2014, fled Thailand in August 2017 to avoid conviction in a criminal negligence case she said was politically motivated.
Later, she was sentenced in absentia to five years in jail.