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PM has 15 days to defend scheme

Lawyers representing caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrive at the National Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Nonthaburi to hear the charges related to the government

Lawyers representing caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrive at the National Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Nonthaburi to hear the charges related to the government

Lawyers accept charges as reds blockade NACC HQ

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has until mid-next month to clarify and defend herself after her representative acknowledged the charge of dereliction of duty over the rice-pledging scheme.

Her lawyers met up with the National Anti-Corruption Commis-sion (NACC) to acknowledge the charge yesterday.

After yesterday's meeting, NACC member Vichai Vivitsevi said Yingluck had 15 days - until March 14 - to refute the criminal charge, although the anti-graft body could extend the deadline.

The meeting took place at the Nonthaburi City Local Administrative Office after NACC's office in the province was blocked by pro-government red-shirt protesters.

The lawyers, Norawit Larlaeng and Bancha Porameesanaporn, said Yingluck was innocent and was ready to fight the charge, adding that the pledging scheme did indeed benefit farmers.

The red shirts erected a concrete obstacle at the entrance of the NACC's Nonthaburi office, just as the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) did at Government House previously. They said if the NACC did not stop investigating Yingluck, they would permanently shut down the office.

In a related development, rice farmers led by PDRC faction leader and monk Buddha Issara yesterday petitioned the Office of the Attorney-General over alleged corruption related to non-payment under the rice-pledging scheme. But they were initially told the attorney-general could not assist them unless they first filed charges with police and had all relevant evidence and documents.

Angry farmers then accused officials of partiality. Officials eventually apologised to the monk and said they would speed up the process today.

Farmers, who took turns criticising the government, vowed to return to the office at 10am today.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai spokes-man Prompong Nopparit went to NACC headquarters to call on the agency to expedite an investigation into irregularities in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government's rice-subsidy scheme.

Responding to NACC member Vicha Mahakun's comment that the body had not received evidence from relevant agencies involving the allegation, largely because of the 2011 floods, Prompong said he would contact those agencies to see if they had submitted evidence.

Prompong also called on the NACC to expedite a probe into irregularities over the purchase of education material for vocational students.






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