Thai court drops negligence charge against ex-PM Yingluck

Nontarat Phaicheroen
Thai court drops negligence charge against ex-PM Yingluck In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photo, Thailand’s former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra waves to supporters as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand’s Supreme Court on Monday dropped a negligence charge against self-exiled former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in the latest favorable ruling for her family’s political dynasty.

The court ruled unanimously to dismiss the charges against Yingluck and six others, who were accused of mishandling the bidding process for a 2013 government infrastructure contract valued at 240 million baht (U.S.$6.7 million), according to the judgment.

Yingluck, Thailand’s first female prime minister, has spent the past six years abroad to evade a prison sentence on separate charges, including one related to a rice subsidy scheme, which was issued after her administration was overthrown in a military coup in 2014.

Analysts say the ruling could pave the way for Yingluck to return to Thailand, following in the footsteps of her brother, Thaksin, who was also ousted in a military coup in 2006 and fled the country in 2008 to escape controversial charges.

Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon and patriarch of the governing Pheu Thai party, arrived in Thailand after 15 years of self-exile in August last year. 

The 74-year-old was jailed on corruption charges upon his return to Thailand but, within a fortnight, his eight-year sentence was slashed to one year by King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X). 

He was granted parole last month after spending six months in a police hospital. 

Following Monday’s verdict, Yingluck’s lawyer Noppadon Lawthong praised the dismissal and the integrity with which the decision was made. 

“The accuser's evidence also had many flaws,” he said, “we had gathered evidence from every court to fight, so we were confident from the start, but this time we received mercy.”

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, who served as Yingluck’s deputy prime minister before she was deposed, said the verdict was fair.

“We are relieved because we have been fighting for many years,” he told reporters. 

Olarn Thinbangtieo, an associate professor at Burapha University’s Faculty of Political Science and Law, said Yingluck now had the opportunity to return to Thailand and follow the same justice process as her brother.

“I believe that this time Thaksin and the Shinawatra family have planned well,” he told BenarNews. 

He said Thailand’s conservative establishment and military now relied on Thaksin to maintain power. 

“This has put the Shinawatra family, including Yingluck, in control of the whole game,” said Olarn.

Thaksin’s return from Dubai coincided with Pheu Thai forming a coalition government with several pro-establishment parties, a development that spurred speculation about a backroom deal between the former rivals.

In December, the Supreme Court dropped charges against Yingluck for abuse of power related to her transfer of Thawil Pliensri, a former secretary-general of the National Security Council, to be a prime ministerial advisor in September 2011. 

Ruj Chuenban in Bangkok contributed to this report.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.