Pheu Thai lawyer claims PM was treated unfairly

national March 16, 2014 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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Lawyers for the ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday criticised independent agencies for what they claimed was unfair treatment of the prime minister.

The legal experts were unhappy that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was given “only 15 days” in extra time by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to explain herself after charging her with dereliction of duty over the government’s controversial rice price-pledging scheme.
The party lawyers also accused the Election Commission (EC) of “acting in a hostile way” against the PM in their investigation into allegations that she abused her political position during election campaigning.
Pichit Chuenban, a key member of the legal team, said they had asked the anti-graft body for 45 days for Yingluck to provide a written explanation but it only allowed them 15 days.
He said that in similar cases against senior permanent officials, the NACC had allowed them 30 days to provide an explanation. 
“But in the case of the prime minister, only 15 days is allowed. The NACC must explain to society about this,” Pichit said.
The prime minister, who chairs the National Rice Policy Committee, has been accused of dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to end the rice scheme, which is tainted with irregularities.
The NACC, which last month charged the prime minister with dereliction of duty, has extended by 15 days the deadline for her to defend herself. 
The PM sought 45 more days, saying that more time was needed to prepare evidence to clear her.
Pichit claimed the EC also looked to be acting in a hostile way against the prime minister while investigating allegations that she abused her authority during campaigning in the run-up to the February 2 election.
He said the prime minister had no intention of taking advantage of her position when making provincial visits in the run-up to the snap poll. 
Critics complained that it was unfair to other political parties for the prime minister to make such visits, during which she was greeted by senior local officials and supporters of the ruling party.
The caretaker prime minister said she had no worries over the NACC’s case. She spoke at her home province of Chiang Mai yesterday and was accompanied by her son.
Senator Prasarn Marukpitak has written an open letter to the prime minister in response to her claim that she did not do anything wrong and was treated unfairly by the courts and independent agencies dealing with the many cases against her.
Prasarn pointed to a number of controversial moves by the ruling party, such as the backing of a bill that would give blanket amnesty to all people involved in recent political conflicts, including politicians convicted of corruption and people convicted of serious crimes, including murder and arson.
“Please think carefully about this. Between you and others, who actually follows the rules and who refuses to obey them?” the senator said.

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