Govt preparing for Hopewell retrial in bid to cancel Bt25.4bn compensation claim
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has ordered Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob to prepare legal details and evidence for the retrial of the Hopewell case to protect the country’s interests.
“Deputy PM Anutin reiterated that the ministry’s legal department must work together to ensure the government receives justice in the Hopewell case,” government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said on Monday.
The government will exercise extreme caution and fight to the end to make sure that taxpayer’s money is used for the country’s benefit, added the spokesperson.
The move comes after the Supreme Administrative Court last Friday (March 4) ruled in favour of the government’s request for a retrial of the Hopewell case – a two-decade-long legal battle over Bangkok’s doomed multibillion-baht mass-transit project.
Judges voted 40-10 in favour of the petition filed by the Transport Ministry and State Railway of Thailand (SRT), reversing an earlier ruling by a lower court rejecting a retrial. They cited a subsequent Constitutional Court ruling in March last year, in favour of a retrial.
The retrial offers Thai authorities fresh hope of escaping the Supreme Administrative Court’s order to pay Bt25.4 billion in compensation for the 1998 cancellation of the Bt80-billion elevated highway and railway project.
“The deputy PM [Anutin] was grateful for messages of moral support received from people all over the country when they heard about the retrial,” added Traisulee. “He said although the Hopewell dispute had started during previous governments, the current government and Transport Ministry had made it a top priority and would do everything to protect the national interest.”