First testimony to be heard on January 15, last on November 18
THE Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders will hear the first witness testimony on January 15 next year and the last testimony on November 18, in the case against Yingluck Shinawatra, the court said yesterday.
A panel of nine judges began hearing the suit filed by then attorney-general Trakul Winitnaiyapak against the former prime minister for grave negligence over her alleged failure to stop corruption and losses amounting to more than Bt500 billion in the rice-pledging scheme.
Before the hearing started, the panel of judges informed the plaintiff and the defendant that presiding judge Weerapol Tangsuwan, who has been appointed the Supreme Court president, has pulled out of the panel hearing this case. Sirichai Wattanayothin, another judge in the panel, has been appointed president of the Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court held a meeting and selected judge Sophon Rojanont and Pisol Pirun to replace them. The court also selected Cheep Chulamn as presiding judge.
The court has set January 15, 17, February 26, and March 4 and 23 to hear a total of 14 prosecution witnesses.
The panel will decide later on whether to allow three other prosecution witnesses – Banyong Inthana, Saweena Polpuet, Sirasa Kanpittaya – to give testimony after witness examination of both sides is completed.
The court has set April 1, 22, May 13, 18, June 17, 24, July 8, 22, August 5, 19, September 23, October 7, 21 and November 4, 18 for 42 defence witnesses.
The court will decide later whether to allow former Election Commission member Sodsri Sattayatham, another defence witness, to give testimony after witnesses on both sides have given their court testimonies.
The court ordered both sides to present written witness testimonies 14 days before the scheduled dates and questions to be raised at the court seven days earlier. Both sides were instructed not to miss the hearing dates.
Yingluck thanked the court for allowing testimony by witnesses, such as Chalerm Yoobamrung, who did not have a chance to give a statement to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Yingluck also thanked her supporters, who said they would wear red as a gesture of support for her on Sunday. She advised them to heed the government’s order, as she wanted peace and reconciliation in the country.
Norrawit Larlaeng, Yingluck’s lawyer, said the defence witnesses include Yingluck, former Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, former deputy prime-minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, former chief adviser to the PM Olarn Chaiprawat, former deputy commerce minister Yanyong Puangrat, veterinarian and academic Chai Watcharong and CP Intertrade chairman Sumet Laomoraporn.
Norrawit said Yingluck was seeking justice over the Finance Ministry’s move to claim civil damages over losses incurred under the rice-pledging scheme, as she believed such a claim would not be fair when the criminal trial by the Supreme Court has yet to be completed.
Several former ministers from the Pheu Thai camp showed up at the court in support of Yingluck.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra posted a message on Instagram, saying reconciliation must stem from “one who believes in justice”.
The message was posted at 11.55pm on Wednesday on his “thaksinlive” Instagram account.
In his comment he also said that red was a trendy colour this year, and he has bought red shirts from the Franconnable and Billionaire brands to keep up with the trend.
Separately, red-shirt leaders from the North are calling on supporters to wear red on Sunday to show their solidarity with former PM Yingluck Shinawatra, who is facing a trial in Supreme Court over criminal charges related to her government’s rice-pledging scheme.