Yingluck's future: A Thai court or exile? (updated)

Latest: Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra held a press conference today and vowed to return to Thailand on August 10. Speculation mounted yesterday whether former PM Yingluck Shinawatra would return from her scheduled trip to Europeafter she was indicted by NACC for "dereliction of duty".

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Friday evening update

Here is the latest from one of our political reporters, Aekarach Sattaburuth:

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her lawyers at SC Park Hotel, Bangkok, where her press conference took place on Friday. KOSOL NAKACHOL

Yingluck vows to return, blasts NACC for rushing investigation

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra Friday pledged not to flee prosecution in Thailand and lambasted the National Anti-Corruption Commission for unfairly rushing the investigation into her role in the loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme.

At her first press conference since the May 22 coup, Ms Yingluck claimed the NACC had unjustly decided to recommend criminal charges be filed against her for not halting the rice scheme.

Speaking at the Shinawatra family-owned SC Park Hotel, she complained the panel had spent only 21 days on its initial probe before calling on her to make a defence. And the entire process, leading to Thursday's call for indictment, took only 140 days, versus years it typically takes for cases against other politicians.

At the news conference she pledged to return and said the trip was personal, had been planned for some time and had a clear itinerary, with a return date of Aug 10.

"Today, I am fully a citizen and deserve the rights and freedoms of other Thais. I insist I will not abandon the Thai people and I am ready to return to Thailand," she said.

Morning story

Ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra has been given permission by the military council to fly to Europe, presumably to attend next week's 65th birthday party for her brother Thaksin in Paris. (AFP file photo)

NACC seeks Yingluck’s indictment

Speculation mounts ex-PM will go into exile

POST REPORTERS

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has decided to recommend former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra be indicted for dereliction of duty in failing to deal with corruption and losses in the rice-pledging scheme.

The decision has raised questions over whether or not Ms Yingluck will flee into exile or return to Thailand to face charges since she has already obtained permission from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to travel to Europe next week.

NACC member Vicha Mahakhun said Thursday the commission ruled by a vote of 7-0 there are sufficient grounds to the allegations that Ms Yingluck was negligent in failing to scrap the pledging scheme despite knowing it was plagued with corruption and huge losses.

Ms Yingluck chaired the National Rice Policy Committee when she was premier.

The NACC will forward the case to the Office of the Attorney-General, recommending Ms Yingluck be indicted in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, Mr Vicha said.

He said an NACC inquiry had found that the rice-pledging scheme was riddled with corruption at every level, such as the rigging of weighing scales, unauthorised moving of rice stocks from storage warehouses, secret rice auctions, and cronyism.

The NACC estimates the rice scheme lost at least 500 billion baht, Mr Vicha said.

Meanwhile, questions have been raised as to whether Ms Yingluck will ever return to Thailand from her planned trip to Europe next week.

Ms Yingluck previously wrote to NCPO chief Prayuth Chan-ocha to request permission to leave the country for a holiday to Europe with her son from Sunday to Aug 10.

It has been speculated that she will travel to France to attend a birthday party for her elder brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on July 26.

A source close to Ms Yingluck confirmed she will be travelling to France and Britain, as well as the US.

But former senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the anti-Thaksin Group of 40 Senators, said on his Facebook page that he did not think Ms Yingluck would flee the country to escape the case.

She will probably return to Thailand to fight the case, which will take quite some time, and the circumstances could change when the NCPO steps down from its role after an election, Mr Somchai said.

He also noted that many of Ms Yingluck's assets remain in the country.

Given the value of her assets, she could not afford to flee into exile, Mr Somchai said.

Mr Somchai also said that the NACC will propose legal amendments to the National Legislative Assembly to extend the statute of limitations in corruption cases to 30 years and revive expired cases.

This means if Ms Yingluck does not return to Thailand, she will have to remain in self-imposed exile probably for the rest of her life and she will have her assets seized, her passport revoked or could face extradition, Mr Somchai said.

Related search: Yingluck Shinawatra, NACC, rice-pledging scheme

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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