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in-focus

August 25: Judgement day


THE high court has set August 25 to deliver its verdict in the criminal negligence case against former premier Yingluck Shinawatra stemming from her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme.

Yingluck, the country’s first female prime minister, could face imprisonment of up to 10 years if a guilty verdict is delivered by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.
On the same date, the court is also scheduled to deliver its verdict in the related case of former commerce minister Boonsong Teruyapirom and 27 others who are charged with malfeasance in alleged bogus government-to-government deals to sell 6.2 million tonnes of rice to China, worth more than Bt20 billion. 
As she arrived at court, Yingluck wiped away tears while embracing supporters and posing for pictures with a crowd of about 500 people, many holding roses and balloons. 
“I want to thank all of the media and people who came here to support me,” she said. 
However, the ex-PM declined to give an interview to reporters after the last day of testimony in her trial yesterday.
“Forgive me for not giving you any interviews today. People may already have drawn conclusions in their minds,” she said, adding that she will give her own closing statement to the Supreme Court on August 1.
As she left the court, her supporters shouted: “Fight on, fight on, Yingluck.” 
The court yesterday also rejected a request by Yingluck to seek a Constitutional Court review on the legal validity of her case under the new Constitution, which came into effect in April. 

August 25: Judgement day
In her last-ditch attempt to delay a high-court judgement, Yingluck said in her petition that Article 235 of the new charter requires the court to base its consideration upon the inquiry file of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The court said it allowed both parties to produce additional witnesses and evidence.
There are three likely scenarios on the outcome of the high court verdict, but political sources said any outcome would have significant political ramifications that would negatively affect the national reconciliation efforts. 
The first and most serious scenario is a guilty verdict for Yinglick with no suspended jail term. This outcome will cause huge dissatisfaction among her supporters with a possibility of social chaos as well as short- and longer-term political consequences. The military may intervene again if the situation is not under control and those causing the unrest will be accused of failing to accept the justice system.
The second scenario is a guilty verdict with a suspended jail term for Yingluck on the grounds that the former premier could not be held directly responsible for the alleged wrongdoing. This outcome is in the middle path but will cause dissatisfaction for both supporters and opponents of the former premier.
Dissatisfaction will be acute among those believing that Yingluck should be accountable for the massive financial damage caused by the rice-pledging scheme, while Yingluck’s supporters would be upset as they believed the case against Yingluck was politically motivated.
The third scenario is a not guilty verdict for Yingluck. The consequence could negatively affect the Prayut government as the Pheu Thai Party would take the verdict as a judicial victory and build the momentum to demand an early election leading to possible social unrest and military intervention to restore law and order.

Published : July 21, 2017

By : POLITICAL DESK THE NATION