Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra would return to Thailand early this morning, as planned, her ex-deputy PM Surapong Tovichakchaikul has said, quashing a rumour that she had postponed her return till the end of the month.
Surapong, who served as foreign minister in Yingluck’s government, said yesterday that Yingluck was not in the United States but was close to Thailand.
Lt-General Kampanart Ruddit, director of the Reconciliation for Reform Centre, denied that Yingluck had contacted the National Council for Peace and Order with a request to extend her overseas trip.
The NCPO granted her permission to holiday overseas from late last month till today.
After taking control of the country, the council placed Yingluck under detention briefly for questioning and released her under several conditions. One was that she not leave the country without its permission.
Her lawyer Norawit Lalaeng said she had not assigned a lawyer to request an extension of her trip.
He said she did not need to seek political asylum even though she had been charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission over her alleged failure to stop huge financial losses and corruption in the rice-pledging scheme. The case had not been filed in court and even if it reached court, it would take a long time before the court made a ruling.
Attorney-General Trakul Winitnaiyapak said he had appointed deputy Attorney-General Wuthipong Wibulwong as chief public prosecutor in charge of the rice-pledging scheme case.
Deputy Attorney-General Pongniwat Yuthapanboriparn has been made deputy chief of the panel handling the case, with former deputy Attorney-General Thaworn Panitpan an adviser to the panel and Special Attorney Pranee Rattanachaiwong a panel member.
Trakul has ordered the panel to scrutinise alleged corruption in the scheme that was unearthed by the NACC and report its findings within 30 days.
He said if the panel resolved that the NACC had enough evidence to press charges against Yingluck, it would be unnecessary to have additional witness testimony. He was referring to Yingluck’s plea for the Attorney-General’s Office to order an additional 50 witness testimonies.