Yingluck sues A-G over handling of prosecution

Yingluck Shinawatra, along with her brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, speaking to reporters at the court yesterday.
Yingluck Shinawatra, along with her brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, speaking to reporters at the court yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

She claims he indicted her without proper examination, included additional documents

During the past two years, Yingluck Shinawatra has been ousted as Thailand's first woman prime minister, impeached by an appointed legislature and put on trial over alleged negligence.

Yesterday, she went on the offensive, suing the kingdom's attorney-general as well as three other prosecutors she said did not handle her prosecution fairly.

She is being tried for mishandling her government's now defunct rice subsidy scheme in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, and faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

In Bangkok's Criminal Court yesterday, she filed a lawsuit accusing Attorney-General Trakul Winitnaiyaphak of indicting her "without sufficient examination of materials, evidence and witnesses that were deemed relevant and valuable to the case".

She also claimed that he had included 60,000 pages of material that had not been part of previous anti-graft investigations, which she deemed illegal.

At the start of her trial late last month, Yingluck had petitioned the Supreme Court to delay the trial and reject these additional documents, as well as witnesses presented by the state prosecutors. That request was turned down.

Yesterday, standing beside her brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat - another dumped prime minister - a solemn-looking Yingluck told the crowd of reporters at the court that she had no idea what was ahead.

"I dare not expect anything from the judge at this moment," she said. "But I expect the justice that I deserve… we have to wait and see."

The court has seven days to decide whether to accept her case.

The proceedings of her trial are expected to be politically contentious, in a country where deep-set conflicts are being suppressed by a military government that came into power through the coup in May last year.

Yingluck was elected in 2011 on the back of her Puea Thai party's policy pledges that appealed to its up-country supporters, the centrepiece of which was the rice pledging scheme.

Under the programme, the government bought an unlimited amount of rice from farmers at about 50 per cent above the market price. But critics alleged it was riddled with corruption, and it was estimated to have cost about 500 billion baht (S$19.7 billion).

Yingluck was deposed as prime minister by a Constitutional Court ruling in May last year, shortly before the remnants of her government were toppled by a military coup.

But even before her ouster, the National Anti-Corruption Commission had declared her guilty of negligence over the rice scheme. These were the grounds on which she was retroactively impeached in January by a military-appointed legislature, resulting in a five-year ban from politics.

She is now facing a criminal trial over the same issue.

The former business executive is the youngest sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives overseas to evade a graft-related jail sentence handed down after he was ousted by a military coup in 2006.

Opposition against the Shinawatra clan - fuelled by resentment among the elite and urban middle class - helped galvanise protesters for some seven months before last year's coup, which together with court rulings, paralysed Yingluck's government.

Thailand is not expected to see a general election until 2017, after a draft Constitution heavily criticised for being undemocratic was voted down by the military-appointed - and now defunct - reform council.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Yingluck sues A-G over handling of prosecution'. Print Edition | Subscribe