Democrats blast regime for ex-PM's passport delay

Democrats blast regime for ex-PM's passport delay

Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme Court for her closing statement in the rice-pledging trial on Aug 1. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme Court for her closing statement in the rice-pledging trial on Aug 1. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The government must cancel the passports of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra immediately or risk being accused of complicity in her vanishing act, according to Wirat Kalayasiri, chief of the Democrat Party's legal team.

He said he suspects the government did not genuinely want to see Ms Yingluck face the Supreme Court ruling over her rice-pledging trial, which she missed on Aug 25. She has not been heard from since.

Mr Wirat was responding to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam's insistence that not every defendant facing an arrest warrant from the court must have their passport seized.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions released an arrest warrant for the ousted ex-premier after she failed to show up on Aug 25. It also confiscated her 30-million-baht surety.

The court has rescheduled the final ruling to Sept 27.

Ms Yingluck, who is on trial for ignoring alleged irregularities in the rice scheme during her tenure, is widely speculated to have fled the country, possibly via Singapore to Dubai where her older brother Thaksin, himself ousted in 2006, is known to reside.

Mr Wirat said in Ms Yingluck's case, the court's issuance of a warrant was justification enough to revoke both her passports as a way to pin her mobility.

Apart from her Thai passport, Ms Ying­luck, out of respect for her role as a former premier, also has a diplomatic passport.

"Her passports must be cancelled immediately because the case has to do with [alleged] corruption involving hundreds of billions of baht of state money," he said. It is worth noting Ms Yingluck is being tried for criminal negligence, not graft.

If the government does not take away her passports, she will be able to move freely to other countries.

"And it would look as though the government was complicit in, if not having consented to, her freely going wherever she pleases," Mr Wirat said.

The Democrat also urged former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom to tell the court who ordered him to orchestrate bogus government-to-government contracts to sell the pledged rice to China.

The Supreme Court has twice rejected a bail application for Boonsong, who has been detained since Aug 25 after being found guilty in connection with the fake contracts. He received a 42-year jail sentence for his involvement.

Mr Wirat said that only by "coming clean" would Boonsong stand a chance of receiving leniency from the court in further rice-scheme trials linked to his time as commerce minister.

Shortly after Boonsong's conviction, former Prime Minister's Office secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva expressed compassion for the former commerce minister.

The two are known to be close friends.

In his Facebook message, Mr Suranand wrote about how he had asked Boonsong who was helping him handle such issues.

"They look scary," he wrote. Boonsong apparently replied that he had a "team".

Narin Somnuek, Boonsong's lawyer, said yesterday they plan to re-submit a bail request and also lodge an appeal, a process which could take two weeks.

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