Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was taken for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on Friday before being returned to his room at Police General Hospital the same day, according to the director-general of the Department of Corrections.
Sahakarn Phetnanin was responding to a frenzy of online speculation after a photo emerged showing Thaksin being moved from the 14th floor of the hospital where he has been staying.
Thaksin, wearing a patient gown and a face mask, was seen in a hospital bed with two people who looked like his daughters —Pintongta and Paetongtarn — accompanying him.
Mr Sahakarn said he was informed by Nastee Thongplad, chief of the Bangkok Remand Prison, that a team of physicians who examined Thaksin at 10am on Friday recommended CT and MRI scans, which were carried out at 11am.
His condition is stable and he was brought back to his room at Police General Hospital, Mr Sahakarn said. He declined to disclose details of the 74-year-old inmate’s condition, citing patient confidentiality and medical ethics.
He said prison officials were not involved in the medical decision to send Thaksin for scans, but were responsible for providing safety and preventing an escape or untoward incident whenever an inmate is moved anywhere.
Doctors have not yet notified the department about how much longer Thaksin’s medical treatment might last, said Mr Sahakarn.
Thaksin is known to have high blood pressure as well as heart and respiratory problems and other ailments associated with old age. He had surgery last month for an unspecified condition, Ms Paetongtarn, a Pheu Thai Party member,said.
Under the regulations governing inmate transfers to outside hospitals, any stay longer than 30 days must be approved by the director-general of the Department of Corrections, based on a medical opinion. That approval was granted on Sept 22.
If the treatment lasts more than 60 days — or beyond Oct 22 in Thaksin’s case — approval by the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Justice is needed. Approval by the justice minister is required if treatment lasts more than 120 days.
Thaksin returned to the country on Aug 22 after more than 15 years of self-exile abroad. He was immediately sentenced to eight years in prison — later reduced to one year under a royal pardon — for abuse of authority and conflict of interest while serving as premier prior to 2006.
He was admitted to Police General Hospital on the night of Aug 22, 13 hours after he first entered prison, and he has been staying there ever since. The Royal Thai Police and the Department of Corrections have denied giving the convict any privileged treatment.