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PM survives charter-change probe; 308 to face charges

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was cleared yesterday by a national anti-graft body probe into her role in charter-amendment legislation that was ruled unconstitutional.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) voted 7:2 to drop the case against Yingluck and 72 senators and former MPs in connection to proposed charter amendments relating to the Senate's composition.

"The NACC found that their roles were insufficient to implicate them, and also that their actions are protected under Article 130 [of the charter, which stipulates lawmakers' basic rights in casting votes]. The allegation against them on this matter has no grounds and has been rejected," NACC member Wicha Mahakun said.

Yingluck and the other 72 were among 381 senators and former MPs against whom complaints were filed for having supported the unconstitutional bill.

The NACC said Yingluck and 64 senators and former MPs voted for the bill in its third reading only, while eight others did not vote for the bill in the third reading. They did not take part in proposing the bill.

However, the NACC decided to press charges against the remaining 308 senators and former MPs, NACC member Prasart Pongsivapai said. Among them, 293 senators and former MPs proposed the bill and voted for it in all three readings, while 15 others proposed and voted for the bill in some readings.

Prasart said these 308 were responsible for proposing the charter amendment at the outset, and took part in scrutinising. Their roles and participation are regarded as sufficient for indictment, and could not be defended under Article 130 of the Constitution.

Earlier, the anti-graft body found grounds to pursue charges against former Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont and his deputy Nikom Wiratpanij for violating the Constitution over their roles in passing the amendment bill. The NACC said there was sufficient evidence that the two accused could be deemed to have performed their duties dishonestly, abused their authority and violated the ethical code.

Meanwhile, some red-shirt leaders might be disqualified from running as party-list parliamentary candidates next month after the Election Commission yesterday declined to endorse them.

EC secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said the commissioners refused to endorse 87 party-list MP applicants from 25 political parties, including four from Pheu Thai.

They are red-shirt leaders Arisman Pongruangrong and Jaran Ditapichai, former MP Thaworn Triratnarong and Pol Colonel Viroon Phuensaen.

The EC cited unmet requirements including voting in the previous election or belonging to the nominating political party as a member for at least 30 days.

The EC told the group to appeal to the Supreme Court within seven days and it would take the court's opinion into consideration in making a final decision, Puchong said.

The unqualified candidates and the party leaders who endorsed them would have to be investigated and any punishment would be considered case by case, he said.


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