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Supreme Court to try Yingluck in rice case

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Supreme Court to try Yingluck in rice case
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders yesterday ordered former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to stand trial on May 19 on charges of alleged negligence in failing to stop corruption and mismanagement of the rice-pledging scheme that inflicted a loss of 600 billion baht on the national coffers and the rice trade.

Supreme Court Vice President Veerapol Tangsuwan, who was selected by nine judges as presiding judge, said the case was within the court’s authority and it was filed correctly in accordance with the court procedure, therefore the court has accepted the case for hearing.

If found guilty, Ms Yingluck could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to 20,000 baht or both.

Surasak Trirattrakul, the deputy chief prosecutor in charge of the case, said 13 prosecution witnesses would testify, including National Anti Corruption Commission officials and concerned state agencies. Evidence such as documents and CDs would be provided to the court.

He said a copy of the writ and the court summons would be delivered to Ms Yingluck within seven days informing her to appear for trial at 9.30am on May 19.

The court notice can be posted at her residence without her presence. Her failure to appear for the first hearing could lead to the court issuing an arrest warrant. He said the court would decide on whether to temporarily release her and decide on whether she could leave the country.

Prosecutors can oppose temporary release of the defendant if they suspect she may flee or tamper with witnesses. There had been no reports of witness intimidation, he added.

Asked if Ms Yingluck can seek permission to leave the country, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters to ask the court, as the case has to conform to justice procedures.

PM Prayut was in a good mood yesterday, plucking a flower from a pot on the steps of Government House and putting it into his pocket while making a metaphorical statement, “Discard withering flowers, they are old, do not pay attention.’

A source close to Ms Yingluck said her brother and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra had telephoned her to provide moral support in fighting the case. He said the National Council for Peace and Order wanted Ms Yingluck to be convicted to prevent her from playing a political role for the rest of her life.

Mr Thaksin told Ms Yingluck it would take many years to fight a civil suit and that it would be another 45 days before the first hearing.

Another lawsuit

The Prayut government is also considering proceeding with another lawsuit against Ms Yingluck seeking 600bn baht in damages for losses inflicted on the country by her government’s rice-pledging scheme.

Ms Yingluck posted messages on her personal Facebook page after the court accepted the case, saying the case would have a significant impact on the country’s economic and political systems, including farmers and people nationwide. The case will set the norm for future governments in drawing up policies to help people.

She insisted that the rice-pledging scheme case was an economic policy that people trusted her to carry out by democratic means. She said she had presented the policy to the people, leading to public consensus to create a fair market mechanism that would help upgrade the quality of life of farmers, who were not able to influence the price of their produce in the market.

The price mechanism was in the hands of rice buyers, she added. She said she wanted to help farmers so that they were not exploited by traders.

Ms Yingluck said she was not given justice during investigation procedures because of political interference in the case. The National Anti-Corruption Commission had stated that there was no evidence to show she was corrupt, colluded with or allowed corruption. Prosecutors had not completed their investigation but had rushed to indict her despite the Attorney-General pointing out holes in the case.

She said she hoped she would be given a fair trial and opportunities to present evidence to show her innocence in the court. She called on critics to stop making comments that would interfere with or influence the court’s decision and affect the fairness of the trial.

Ms Yingluck’s lawyer, Norawit Lalang, said his legal team had yet to choose the defence witnesses as they had yet to receive the writ. At the first hearing, they would prepare assets as required by the court to seek Ms Yingluck’s temporary release.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

The tally for Covid-related infections and deaths reported over the past 24 hours reports 19 new deaths and 2,419 cases. There have been 52,411 confirmed Covid-19 infections in the recent outbreak with more than 16,000 cases in Bangkok, the epicentre of infections. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has reported a total of 81,274 Covid-19 infections and 382 coronavirus-related deaths.

Thailand now has 29,473 active Covid-19 cases. Most patients with Covid-19 are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. More than 1,000 Covid-19 patients are in critical condition including 380 people on ventilators.

Out of the 2,419 new cases, more than 1,000 cases were detected in Bangkok. Most cases were local transmissions or detected through active case finding.

Of the 19 new coronavirus-related deaths, most were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The majority of deaths were the elderly and many of them contracted the virus from infected family members or friends.

Over the past week, new clusters of Covid-19 infections have been detected in crowded Bangkok neighbourhoods, including the Klong Toey slum, Ban Khing and Bang Kae districts. Poor communities in Bangkok have been seen as vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks as people live in close proximity to each other and many cannot afford to stop working to abide by stay-at-home orders. CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says active case finding in Bangkok clusters have been “beefed up.”

With cases in Bangkok still on the rise, the current disease control measures imposed in the capital will be extended until May 17. Schools and entertainment venues must remain closed.

Provincial totals, thanks to the NBT…

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerDistricts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toey 37
Ratchathewi 26
Pathumwan 24
Bang Kapi 13
Chatuchak 11
Don Mueang 9
Lat Phrao 9
Dusit 8
Yan Nawa 7
Wang Thonglang 7

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 7 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19: Thailand struggles with South and Southeast Asia

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Thailand struggles with its devastating third wave of Covid-19

In 2020, Thailand was hailed worldwide for its iron-fisted lockdown that curbed Covid-19 spread almost completely. Thailand was the second country in the world after China to identify a Covid-19 infection in January of last year but managed to keep its numbers impressively low, at least until December’s second wave of outbreaks. That wave drove the numbers up to nearly 29,000 Covid-19 infections in a nation of more than 69 million people, from the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 to the end of March 2021. But its devastating third wave struck in April and in just 5 weeks that number has more than doubled to above 76,000 Covid-19 infections.

Daily infection rates are now hovering around 2,000 per day with 1,911 reported yesterday. When a new Covid-19 cluster was identified in the elite nightclub scene of Bangkok’s Thonglor district, 196 entertainment venues were closed for 2 weeks. But as the virus spread throughout the nation the closures followed too and soon all nightlife venues were closed indefinitely. As infections grew, the Thai New Year came and while most Songkran activities and events were cancelled, many people still went on holiday to cities or beaches or travelled to be with their families in their hometowns. Despite warnings and attempts at contact tracing and testing, Covid-19 infections surged in Thailand after the holiday.

With the influx of new infections, hospitals began to fill up quickly and waiting lists formed to obtain a hospital bed. The government required anyone in Thailand who tested positive for Covid-19 to be immediately admitted to hospital for observation and treatment. This may have done more harm than good as there were reports of Bangkok hospitals refusing to administer Covid-19 tests because they didn’t have the capacity to take in any patient that came back positive.

Field hospitals have been set up using conference centres and sports arenas, and the country launched a plea for hotels to convert into “hospitels” – a hospital-hotel hybrid that could treat asymptomatic and low-needs patients and free up space for those in need of more intense medical care.

Vaccination has been slow and the government has come under frequent fire for their inefficient roll out. Confusion is constant with conflicting reports of deals being reached with vaccine manufacturers, delays in shipments and domestic manufacturing, questions about how to get a vaccine, and whether or not foreigners and expats in Thailand are even eligible for Covid-19 vaccination and at what cost.

This week the government push to vaccinate 50,000 people in core and dense areas in Bangkok after an outbreak of 300 new cases in the neighbourhood. But as of now, only 2 out of every 100 people have been vaccinated for Covid-19 in Thailand, a discouraging statistic when even India, in the midst of its catastrophic outbreak, has vaccinated 12 people out of every 100.

Here’s how Thailand compares to ASEAN members and neighbouring countries:

COUNTRY CASES PER 1M (Wikipedia) AT LEAST 1 DOSE
Worldwide 20,072 8.11%
Brunei 515 2.45%
Cambodia 1,153 9.61%
India 15,796 9.5%
Indonesia 6,359 4.76%
Laos 165 1.73%
Malaysia 13,071 2.83%
Maldives 89,035 (pop. < 1m) 55.53%
Myanmar 2,629 1.84%
Nepal 12,287 7.18%
Philippines 9,957 1.63%
Singapore 10,745 23.32%
Sri Lanka 5,477 4.33%
Thailand 1,186 1.72%
Vietnam 32 0.69%

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

 

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Thailand

American arrested for alleged murder in Chiang Mai has past record of abuse in Colorado

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ตำรวจภูธรจังหวัดน่าน

The American man who was recently arrested for allegedly murdering his pregnant Thai wife in Chiang Mai had been sentenced to 2 years of probation back in 2019 on assault charges after his gun went off while he was threatening a woman in Colorado. A report from the Associated Press says it appears to be the same woman.

Jason Matthew Balzer, 32, had initially faced attempted murder charges for assaulting a woman in Longmont, Colorado, but those charges were dropped. A Boulder District Attorney’s Office spokesperson told a local reporter in a previous report that “in every case, we need witnesses to testify at a trial. Unfortunately, due to issues with the victim’s availability, the higher charge had to be dismissed.”

The victim had called the police saying Jason had asked to have sex and then assaulted her when she said “no,” according to the arrest report. She told police he hit her face and slammed her head onto the bed’s headboard several times before taking out a revolver and threatening to kill her, the report says. The woman told police she pushed the gun and it went off near her head.

Balzer pled guilty to third-degree assault in December 2019 and was sentenced to 2 years of probation. In December 2020, Jason was arrested in Colorado after police allegedly found 73 guns in his van. Possession of firearms is a violation of probation. It’s unclear when Jason travelled to Thailand.

Since the case in Colorado involved a victim of domestic violence, the name was redacted in public court records, but a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office told AP reporters that the victim has the same name as the woman killed in Thailand. Based on photographs, the spokesperson says they appear to be the same person.

On Thursday, Jason was arrested in Chiang Mai. Reports say he confessed to stabbing and killing his wife, 32 year old Pitchaporn Kidchop, who was 3 months pregnant. Police say Jason sealed his wife’s body in a garbage bin before taking it to the woods about 5 kilometres away. In Thailand, a murder charge carries a maximum penalty of death.

Local police posted photos of the crime reenactment on Facebook. In Thailand, it is common for suspects to admit to crimes and reenactment the crimes to law enforcement officers and the press.

 

SOURCE: Time Call | Associated Press

 

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