Thursday, November 14, 2019

Surapong freed on bail as Supreme Court agrees to hear case

Jun 15. 2017
Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, right, arrives at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders on Thursday for the first hearing in the case.
Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, right, arrives at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders on Thursday for the first hearing in the case.
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By THE NATION

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FORMER FOREIGN minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul was on Thursday released on bail after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of malfeasance against him for reissuing a revoked passport to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Surapong, 64, denied the charges against him and insisted on his innocence.

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders yesterday started hearing a trial against Surapong in a case filed by the Office of the Attorney-General in March. The lawsuit followed an indictment in February by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly violating Article 157 of the Penal Code regarding malfeasance and also committing wrongdoing under the anti-corruption law.

Surapong managed to get bail after offering a bond of Bt3 million. The court granted him temporary release on condition that he not leave the country without court permission.

While serving as foreign minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government in 2011, Surapong had ordered the issuance of an ordinary passport to fugitive Thaksin, who has been convicted for abuse of power. The act was deemed a violation to the Foreign Ministry regulations regarding issuance of passports.

The former foreign minister showed up at the court yesterday with a walking cane. He was accompanied by his lawyer and Pheu Thai Party politician Ruangkrai Leewattanakrit, who is his representative.

After hearing the defendant, the court yesterday scheduled July 27 for examination of witnesses and evidence. The hearing of witnesses from both sides was scheduled for August 24 and 29, as well as September 13.

There are no more than 10 witnesses from the prosecution and some 20 witnesses from the defence, according to a source familiar with the case.

In April, Surapong resigned as Pheu Thai member, saying he did not want the party to be affected by his earlier impeachment which had resulted in a five-year ban from politics. The National Legislative Assembly in late March voted overwhelmingly to impeach Surapong over the passport scandal.

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