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Court says Thawil's transfer 'lacking in ethics and morality'

Finds PM Yingluck and entire 2011 cabinet guilty of abuse of power

THE Constitutional Court yesterday unanimously ruled to remove caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine members of the 2011 Cabinet from office after finding them guilty of abuse of power.

It found the PM and the ministers had benefited a relative of Yingluck by transferring secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), Thawil Pliensri,in 2011. The removal of Thawil led to the transfer of then police chief Pol General Wichean Potephosree to take over Thawil's post so that Yingluck's relative, Pol General Priewpan Damapong, could take the helm as national police chief.

Existing cabinet members who did not take part in the Cabinet decision in 2011 were spared from being removed, however, and will continue to carry out their duties in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed, the court said.

The court said Yingluck's action was, "lacking in ethics, morality and a sense of what is right and just" and was a violation of the charter. The judges said the transfer of Thawil was driven by a hidden agenda to benefit Priewpan, who is the older brother of Thaksin Shinawatra's former wife Potjaman na Pombejra. The whole Cabinet who jointly took the decision have also been disqualified as they all participated in the transfer decision and thus engaged in a "forbidden activity".

"It's an action to benefit oneself politically and constitutes a direct interference," a judge read in the ruling, adding that the order for the transfer was also rushed.

The court said Wichean had two years to go before his retirement as police chief while Priewphan was to retire a year later, on September 30, 2012.

Wichean had to be transferred somewhere to clear the post of police chief to enable Priewphan to be appointed as national police chief. The result was the transfer of Thawil.

"It's believed that the motive behind the transfer [of Thawil] was in order to vacate the post of secretary-general of the National Security Council for police chief Wichean Potephosree and open a way for [the relative of Yingluck] to occupy the post [of police chief]," a judge read.

The court also cited testimony from Wichean, who said he originally intended to end his career as a police chief but would not be attached to the post if the superiors had other plans for him.

"This shows that the decision of the witness [Wichean] depended on the superior which was the prime minister," a judge concluded.


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