Prosecution witnesses testify against Yingluck
Two key prosecution witnesses testified on Friday against former premier Yingluck Shinawatra who is standing trial in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders for alleged dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme.
In the fourth hearing, the prosecution called ex-Democrat Party MP for Phitsanulok Warong Dejkitvikrom, who led a House debate on the rice scheme, and retired graft-fighter Vicha Mahakhun, former lead investigator of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), to stand.
Meanwhile, the court instructed defence lawyer Sommai Koosap to submit a formal petition for consideration after he accused some media outlets of carrying news reports deemed to influence the case.
Mr Sommai's complaint was based on the court's instructions that the prosecution and the defence must be careful when commenting about the case in public.
During the testimony, the Democrat politician focused on alleged irregularities in government-to-government (G-to-G) rice deals, pointing to the fact that several cashier's cheques were issued when they should have been letters of credit.
He also told the court that six G-to-G contracts claimed 20 million tonnes of rice had been traded while the state-verified amounts of trade during 2011-2013 involved only 212 tonnes of rice.
Mr Vicha told the court that the NACC decided to launch an inquiry into the rice scheme because the Yingluck administration failed to take action after being alerted of alleged irregularities by concerned parties including the Office of the Auditor-General and the Finance Ministry's sub-committee overseeing the accounts. He said the anti-graft agency's decision to indict Ms Yingluck for gross negligence of duty was made at the full meeting of the NACC.
The next prosecution witness hearing is scheduled to take place on March 23.
The court has also rescheduled a first defence witness hearing from April 1 to June 17 to allow the prosecution to bring their six additional witnesses to testify. The last defence witness hearing is scheduled for Feb 3 next year.
Ms Yingluck yesterday turned up to hear testimony by prosecution witnesses. She was welcomed by throngs of supporters who erupted in boos and jeers when a group of Democrat executives showed up at the hearing.
She said she was puzzled by reports that the Election Commission was filing a lawsuit demanding she pay 2.4 billion baht in compensation for the aborted general election in Feb 2, 2014.