Court accepts Yingluck rice case for trial

Court accepts Yingluck rice case for trial

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra defends herself on the implementation of the rice-pledging scheme in the National Legislative Assembly on Jan 22, 2015. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra defends herself on the implementation of the rice-pledging scheme in the National Legislative Assembly on Jan 22, 2015. (Bangkok Post file photo)

A nine-member bench of the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday morning to accept for trial the Office of the Attorney General's indictment of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the bungled rice-pledging scheme.

The court scheduled the first hearing for May 19 starting 9.30am.

Ms Yingluck is charged with dereliction of duty and with abuse of authority under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the 1999 Counter Corruption Act.

The nine judges, who were selected by a plenary session of Supreme Court judges, met this morning and agreed to accept the case for further proceedings.

"The panel (of judges) has decided that this case falls within our authority... We accept this case," said judge Veeraphol Tangsuwant, adding that the first hearing will be held on May 19.

A large number of news reporters gathered at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to hear the decision, but no lawyers were present for either side.

Security was tight inside the court compound. People and vehicles entering or leaving were subject to a security search.

Ms Yingluck also did not show up at the court this morning. Her lawyer Norrawit Lalaeng said earlier that she was not required by the law to appear before the court to hear the  decision.

The court will send a letter formally notifying the defendant of its decision within seven days.

Soon after the ruling, Ms Yingluck again declared her innocence in a post on her Facebook page.

She insisted she was sincere in perfoming her duties as prime minister under the mandate given to her by the people.

Ms Yingluck said rice-pledging was a main policy of her government, to strengthen the country's economic foundation.  She had implemented the policy under the mandate given to her by the people, who wanted a  marketing mechanism that was just and realistic and would improve the farmers' quality of life.

In the past, farmers were not able to fix the prices of their produce in the market, she wrote.

"This case will have a wide impact on the country's economic and political systems, as well as farmers and all people in general.  It will also serve as a precedent for the formulation of policies to help the people in the future," Ms Yingluck said.

The former prime minister said she doubted whether the "rule of law" had been properly applied to ensure justice in her case.

Ms Yingluck cited an investigation report with comments by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

"The report said there was 'no evidence' that I had been corrupt 'or allowed anyone to be corrupt', but the commission still found me guilty.

"Before the Office of the Attorney General indicted me, it pointed out several points considered flaws in the report. 

"However, the prosecution did not conduct an additional investigation into those points.  Instead, the prosecution rushed the indictment.

"This did not follow a regular procedure, which requires the accused to rerceive justice," Ms Yingluck wrote.

She continued: "Even though the Supreme Court has accepted the case for trial, I am still confident of my innocence and evidence to prove that I have not done anything wrong".

"I only hope that during the trial I will be given the right to access the true justice process and the opportunity to present facts, arguments and evidence to fight the case," Ms Yingluck said.

Ms Yingluck said she hoped the trial would be rightful, transparent and just without prejudice, adding that she felt she had not been given the right to fight after being accused, with the intention to destroy her politically.

"I would like to call for all sides to cease any criticism, pressure or misleading comments for political gain  until the Supreme Court has completed the judicial process," she added.

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