The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for failing to appear for the first hearing in a case where she and five others are accused of corruption in funding the Roadshow to Future Thailand 2020 project.
Ms Yingluck is the first defendant in the case, filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission on Jan 28, 2022.
The five other defendants are former deputy prime minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Ms Yingluck’s former secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva, Matichon Plc, Siamsport Syndicate Plc, and Siamsport director Ravi Lohtong.
In the lawsuit, Ms Yingluck and her co-defendants are alleged to have caused damage of 239.7 million baht to the country by helping Matichon and Siam Sport win contracts to carry out the project by a special selection method rather than properly calling for bids.
The alleged offence was committed between late August 2013 and March 12, 2014.
The court accepted the case for trial and agreed to legal proceedings against Ms Yingluck, Mr Niwatthamrong and Mr Suranand for alleged violations of Section 157 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 1999 and Sections 12 and 13 of the law against price collusion law of 1999, and against Matichon, Siamsport and Mr Ravi for alleged collaboration with the first three defendants.
Mr Niwatthamrong, Mr Suranand and Mr Ravia were released on bail after the court first accepted the case for trial. Ms Yingluck, who is a fugitive in self-exile, was represented by her lawyer.
The court then set April 19 for the first hearing.
On Tuesday Ms Yingluck did not appear before the court, without giving good reason or submitting a request to postpone the hearing. The court issued a warrant for her arrest under Section 28 of the law on the procedures of criminal cases against holders of political positions of 2017.
The other defendants and their lawyers were present at the court. They denied the charges.
The court set Sept 12, from 9.30am, for the next hearing.
The roadshow was launched in 2013 on the instruction of then-prime minister Yingluck. It included exhibitions, seminars and other activities to promote the project. In March 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled the roadshow was unconstitutional.
Yingluck fled Thailand in August 2017 to escape punishment over her administration’s failed rice-pledging scheme, just before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions passed sentence.
She was sentenced in her absence to five years in prison, and a bench warrant issued for her arrest.