Yingluck pleads not guilty, gets bail for $1.1 million

Yingluck pleads not guilty, gets bail for $1.1 million
Ousted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme court in Bangkok, Thailand, May 19, 2015.

The Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, which held its first hearing in the case yesterday, released the ex-PM from Pheu Thai Party on bail of Bt30 million (S$1.1 million) - on condition that she must not leave the country without the court's permission.

The charges against her are based on Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Yingluck faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of dereliction of duty over her role in the controversial rice-subsidy scheme.

She was forced to step down last year, shortly before a military coup in May.

The court rejected Yingluck's request to conduct the trial with the accused in absentia, ordering her to be present at every hearing.

Should she not be able to attend any hearing, she must submit a petition giving her reasons and enabling the court to reach a decision on each occasion.

The court allowed her to submit written testimony on July 3.

Chutichai Sakhakorn, chief prosecutor in the case and representing the Office of the Attorney General, which is a plaintiff, told the court that the prosecution would bring nine witnesses to testify against the ex-premier.

These include government officials and others from the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), another plaintiff in the case.

Anek Kamchum, the defence lawyer, said he would introduce more than 20 witnesses to provide testimony. The court scheduled the next hearings for evidence examination on July 21 and July 28, with court sessions to commence at 9.30am on both dates.

Yingluck was greeted on arrival at court by former commerce minister Nattawut Saikua, ex-deputy prime minister Plodprasop Suraswadi and former Pheu Thai MPs and red-shirt leaders such as Korkaew Pikulthong and Prompong Nopparit, who were there to provide moral support ahead of the hearing.

Speaking outside the court, Yingluck said she was confident of her innocence and urged the public not to make any criticism that could adversely affect the judicial process.

Norawit Lalaeng, her lawyer, said he would give details about the defence witnesses at the next hearings on July 21 and 28.

He said that after the court agreed to hear the case, his team had sought permission to make copies of documents from the NACC.

The documents showed irregularities and discrepancies in evidence and concerning some of prosecution witnesses, he said.

Norawit discredited the NACC's witnesses, saying some them had been fired as state officials and some had arrest warrants issued against them. He voiced concern that political rivals of Yingluck may have made comments that could mislead or influence the judges.

Court officials cordoned off Yingluck's supporters with metal barricades, so that those needing to get into the courtroom could do so without hindrance.

In January, Yingluck was banned from politics for five years after being impeached by the National Legislative Assembly for her role in the rice-subsidy scheme.

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