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Nikom-Somsak impeachment debate to start Nov 27

Posted by pakin On November - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Debate on Yingluck impeachment set for Nov 12

The National Legislative Assembly will start debating the impeachment motion against former House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont and former Senate speaker Nikom Wairatpanij on Nov 27, NLA president Pornphet Wichitcholchai said on Friday.

Mr Pornphet said the NLA secretary-general had already sent copies of the impeachment motion from the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to Mr Somsak and Mr Nikom.

After the first meeting on the motion on Nov 27, NLA members will be able to submit relevant questions to an ad hoc assembly committee, which will then compile them for further inquiry.

NLA vice president Surachai Liangboonlertchai said Mr Somsak and Mr Nikom could propose examination of additional evidence and witnesses, before the Nov 27 meeting. The NLA meeting would decide whether to accept the proposals or not, and would afterwards question both men.

The impeachment against Mr Somsak and Mr Nikom concerns their roles in the past parliament’s attempt last year to change the 2007 constitution concerning the composition of the Senate.

Mr Nikom and Mr Somsak were accused of cutting short parliamentary debate last year on the constitutional amendment that would have made the Senate a fully elected chamber, instead of partially elected and partially appointed.

Mr Somsak was also accused of accepting a secretly modified charter amendment bill different from the  original version in March last year. The modified version would have allowed elected senators to serve unlimited consecutive terms.

Mr Pornphet also said the NLA would start to consider the impeachment motion against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Nov 12. Ms Yingluck stands accused of failing to properly oversee her party’s populist rice-pledging scheme, resulting in corruption and massive financial loss to the state — now estimated at possibly as much as one billion baht.

The loss reportedly amounts to hundreds of billions of baht.

Yingluck protests impeachment bid

Posted by pakin On November - 5 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Lawyers for Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday filed an objection to the decision by National Legislative Assembly (NLA) president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai to include a proposal seeking the impeachment of the former prime minister on the agenda for a special meeting on Nov 12.

Lawyer Norawit Lalaeng, accompanied by former Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, submitted a letter to Mr Pornpetch at parliament opposing the assembly’s acceptance of the impeachment request. A parliamentary staffer received the letter on Mr Pornpetch’s behalf.

Mr Norawit argued that the charge related to limits on Ms Yingluck’s rights and freedoms and the 2014 interim charter did not include provisions for the impeachment of holders of political positions.

The NLA’s meeting regulations also stipulated that assembly members had the authority to impeach politicians under the anti-corruption organic law.

Since Ms Yingluck was no longer prime minister, she did not meet the political office holders criteria stipulated in Section 58 of the National Anti-Corruption Act.

Section 58 authorises senators to impeach political office holders, and NLA members argue they must have the same authority now the Senate no longer exists.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has accused Ms Yingluck of dereliction of duty for failing to stop corruption and losses in her government’s rice-pledging scheme, and asked the NLA to impeach her.

She chaired the National Rice Policy Committee when she was prime minister. If the NLA finds against her, Ms Yingluck will be banned from politics for five years.

Mr Pornpetch previously said the NLA believed it could still hear the charge even though the 2007 charter under which the charges were brought was abolished after the May 22 coup. The charge could still be brought under organic state administration and NACC laws, he said.

Mr Norawit asked the NLA to postpone the discussion. He argued the NACC was supposed to notify Ms Yingluck, but failed to do so, before sending the case to the NLA, which is to decide on Nov 12 if it will hear the impeachment case.

A lawyer representing Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday called on the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to set up a new committee to jointly investigate charges against her along with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The suggestion is aimed at ensuring justice for the former prime minister who is accused of dereliction of duty over her alleged failure to deal with corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

Norawit Lalaeng, the lawyer, made the call in a petition he submitted with the OAG, asking that it ensure justice and fairness in the case against his client.

He said the NACC’s investigation report on the case was incomplete and lacked detail on many important points because it had been prepared in haste.

A joint OAG-NACC committee should be set up to further investigate the case, Mr Norawit said.

He said that he will have 50 witnesses ready to testify in Ms Yingluck’s defence, but said this was not a tactic to buy time because the accused has the right to a solid defence.

It was also Ms Yingluck’s wish to provide as many details as possible, so all parties concerned could take them into consideration, the lawyer added.

Mr Norawit said the NACC report accuses Ms Yingluck of corruption at every step of the rice-pledging process, but provides no evidence to back up the accusations.

Moreover, the committee set up by the National Council for Peace and Order to inspect the pledged rice had found that the amount of rotten stock stored in warehouses was less than the amount set to determine acceptable damages.

This demonstrated that there was no corruption in the programme, he said. Therefore, the OAG should accept the petition and give Ms Yingluck the justice she deserves, Mr Norawit said.

His petition was received by Somkiat Kuwawatananont, deputy secretary to the attorney-general. On July 17, the NACC recommended Ms Yingluck be indicted for failing to deal with corruption and losses to the state as a result of the scheme.

The NACC estimates the ill-fated rice scheme lost at least 500 billion baht, a cost borne by taxpayers.

Yingluck will fight charges, says lawyer

Posted by pakin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will return to Thailand to fight charges of dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme, her lawyer repeated Tuesday as the likelihood of charges moved a step closer.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), recommending Ms Yingluck be indicted in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

On July 17, the NACC recommended Ms Yingluck be indicted for dereliction of duty in failing to deal with corruption and losses in the rice-pledging scheme. The NACC estimates the rice scheme lost at least 500 billion baht.

The NACC ruled by a vote of 7-0 there were sufficient grounds to allegations that Ms Yingluck was negligent in failing to scrap the scheme, despite knowing it was plagued by corruption and losses.

This would be in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the National Anti-Corruption Act.

Norawit Lalaeng, the lawyer representing Ms Yingluck, said he will submit a petition to the OAG today asking it to ensure justice and fairness for Ms Yingluck.

She has criticised the NACC for “unfair practices” in the investigation against her. Ms Yingluck previously requested additional defence witnesses, but was refused by the NACC.

Mr Norawit said the NACC rushed its investigation into the case and its findings were still incomplete, adding the petition, which will be submitted to the OAG, will include fresh information.

The lawyer said he believed the attorney-general will accept the petition and give Ms Yingluck fairness and justice.

Regarding Ms Yingluck’s return to Thailand from her overseas trip, Mr Norawit said Ms Yingluck did not inform him of any change in her planned return to Thailand on Sunday.

Ms Yingluck was allowed by the National Council for Peace and Order to leave for a holiday in Europe and the United States on July 23.

Questions have been raised as to whether Ms Yingluck will ever return to Thailand to face the charges against her.

NACC authorities delivered five boxes containing more than 4,000 pages of investigation reports on the rice-pledging case to the OAG Tuesday morning.

Santhanee Ditsayabut, deputy spokeswoman of the OAG, said the office would set up a working panel, chaired by the deputy attorney-general, to examine the evidence and witnesses.

If the panel concludes the case has sufficient weight, the OAG will forward the indictment of the former prime minister to the Supreme Court within 30 days as required by law.

But if it finds there is not enough information, it will set up a joint panel with the NACC to reconsider the case and aim for a conclusion within 14 days, Ms Santhanee said.

In the meantime, Ms Yingluck has the right to continue to call more witnesses in her defence.

If she does, the OAG will determine whether the new witnesses or evidence are redundant, what new information they would bring and whether they can challenge existing witnesses and evidence, Ms Santhanee said.