The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) yesterday voted to postpone impeachment proceedings against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra after her lawyers insisted that she needed enough time to prepare her defence as indicated in the NLA meeting protocol. Yingluck's three lawyers were present at the NLA meeting to explain why they wanted the first round of impeachment proceedings to be deferred by 30 days.
NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had delivered the copy of the writ to the NLA on October 14, and that copies of the writ had been distributed among NLA members on October 28.
He added that officials had been instructed to contact Yingluck's lawyers to tell them that the write had been delivered to her, but her legal team said she had not returned from an overseas trip. He then went on to say that he had copies of the writ delivered to Yingluck's home twice - on October 29 and November 7 - and both times somebody had signed to receive the documents.
However, the former PM's lawyer Anek Kamchum said that in accordance with NLA's meeting protocols, the NACC writ should be delivered to the accused at least 15 days before the first meeting on the impeachment proceedings are held. The first such meeting was scheduled to be held yesterday.
He also pointed out that Yingluck had returned to Thailand on November 2, so she did not have enough time to prepare her defence. He said that if the documents were delivered to Yingluck on November 7, as claimed by the NLA president, then she would only have five days to study the 3,870 pages of the writ.
He also called on the NLA president to allow Yingluck's legal team to make copies of the 3,870 pages, even though they were classified documents.
Four NLA members, including Saowanee Suwannacheep and Monthian Buntan, took to the floor asking the lawyers why they did not contact Yingluck while she was overseas to alert her about this development, especially since the news had been widely covered by the media.
Norwit Lalaeng, another member of Yingluck's team of lawyers, said that according to the NLA meeting protocols, the defendant has to receive the documents officially, not be informed over the phone.
The NLA voted 167:16, with seven abstentions, to defer the first meeting of the impeachment proceedings to November 28 as proposed by the NLA whip secretary Somchai Swangkarnwith.
Pornpetch said Yingluck's lawyers would be allowed to copy all the 3,870 pages of the writ, provided the copying was done only during official hours.
The NACC has accused Yingluck of failing to stem corruption and massive losses in the rice-pledging scheme as well as intentionally breaching Article 178 of the 2007 Constitution, Article 11 of the State Administration Act, Article 58 of the Constitution Organic Law on Prevention and Suppression of Corruption Act.