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Court finds ex-PM guilty of malfeasance in G2G deals but not negligent in preventing losses


THE SUPREME Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders yesterdays ruled unanimously to hand down a five-year jail sentence to fugitive former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in absentia in the case concerning her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme after the verdict had been delayed for one month.

The former prime minister was found guilty of malfeasance and negligence for failing to terminate phoney government-to-government (G2G) rice sales by her then-commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who was jailed for 42 years last month. “Yingluck acknowledged the illegality of the G2G rice trade but refused to cancel a contract with a Chinese state enterprise,” the ruling stated. 
The grounds of the ruling was that Yingluck had given an interview in which she said trades had been conducted between governments. However, it was later exposed by the opposition party in a censure debate in Parliament that rice stockpiles that were supposed to be sent to China had been resold inside Thailand.
Although Yingluck set up an investigatory committee in response to the controversy, the court ruled that the former prime minister had not in good faith tried to bring her commerce minister to justice. 
The court ruled that the investigatory committee members were all under Boonsong’s supervision so the investigation did not answer questions raised in the censure debate.
In another allegation related to the implementation of the rice-pledging policy, which was implemented in such a way as to allow corruption and caused massive financial damage to the state, the court ruled that Yingluck was not guilty as it could not be proved she had been negligent in preventing losses. Despite damages and rampant corruption, the court ruled that malfeasance stemmed from practices at the operational level. 
Yingluck, as head of the National Rice Committee, had established regulations and preventative methods at the programme’s outset, the court found.
The judicial panel of nine judges yesterday met behind closed doors at 7am. After more than four hours of discussions, the panel returned to the bench at 11.15am to read the verdict. It took another four hours for the panel to finished reading the 90-page long verdict, which included details of the allegations, evidence and arguments from both sides. The final verdict including the five-year sentence was read at about 3pm.
Despite the significance of the case and the verdict to the country, few people showed up at the court yesterday, which was attributed to Yingluck’s absence. Less than 100 people were in the courtroom. Most of the attendees were reporters and Pheu Thai Party staff members.

Published : September 27, 2017

By : KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN THE NATION