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Witnesses testify in defence of ex-PM Yingluck on rice pledging scheme

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra stood trial at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to hear her witnesses giving testimonies to defend her for rice pledging scheme case today (July 7).

Four defendant witnesses testified in her favour today. They are her two deputy prime ministers Niwatthamlong Boonsongphaisal and Plodprasop Suraswadi and former Nakhon Nayok governor Surachai Srisarakham, and former National Security Council chief Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr.

Ms Yingluck arrived at the court before 9.00 am amid a hundred of supporters giving her morale boost.

Before entering the courtroom, Ms Yingluck remained confident of her innocence with the evidence she has produced to the court, while dismissing charge of dereliction of duty filed by the attorney-general.

She said she would like to give verbal statement in closing the case which the court will schedule the date again.

She thanked all her supporters and vowed to fight the case to prove her innocence.

Former commerce minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn told the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions that there was no need for then prime minister Yingluck to supervise every matter by herself after she had delegated one of the deputy prime ministers or a government agency to take responsibility over the matter.

He maintained that every warning or suggestion made by the Office of the Auditor-General and the National Anti-Corruption Commission regarding damages rendered to the rice pledging scheme had been tended to.

He also said that there was no need for Ms Yingluck to immediately raise the warnings or suggestions from the OAG or NACC at the meetings of the Rice Policy Committee headed by the premier.

Another defence witness, Mr Plodprasob Suraswadi, told the court that the devastating flood in 2011 prompted the Yingluck administration to introduce the rice pledging scheme to help the affected farmers.

Former Nakhon Nayok governor Surachai Srisarakham who was in charge of managing the rice pledging scheme in his province insisted that there were no complaints of corruption regarding the scheme.

The fourth defence witness, Ltr-Gen Paradon Patthanathabut, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, told the court that he had nothing to do with the scheme and, hence, had little to testify.

Seven defence witnesses are scheduled to testify in the next and final hearing on July 21. They include, Mr Ampon Kitti-ampon, Mrs Benja Louicharoen, Mr Atchaporn Charuchinda and Associate Professor Kitti Limsakul.

If no further defendant witnesses are to give testimonies, the court will hand down the verdict in seven days after the last hearing.

However, if there are more witnesses, then the date to hear the verdict could be extended, but all will be within one month.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)