Yingluck to follow in Thaksin’s legal footsteps on return: lawyer

BANGKOK: Fugitive former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (pic) will follow in the legal footsteps of her brother Thaksin if she returns from exile but will not receive preferential treatment, according to the controversial lawyer for the Shinawatra family.

Pichit Chuenban, who is being tipped for a role in Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s Cabinet because of his strong ties with the Shinawatras, was asked about speculation that Yingluck would return from self-imposed exile in October or later this year.

“I really don’t know. I know nothing about the timeframe. I’m only taking care of her case,” he said.

The lawyer was responding to comments made by Yingluck’s brother, paroled former PM Thaksin, during a Songkran visit to his hometown of Chiang Mai last week. Thaksin said he hoped his sister could return to Thailand this year so they could celebrate next year’s festival together in the northern city.

Pichit said Yingluck would have to follow proper legal steps if she returns to her homeland. Asked if Yingluck would enter the same legal process as her brother, Pichit replied that it would be “a similar model”. He quickly insisted, however, that Thaksin was not handed preferential treatment and had complied with the full legal process.

Rumours of a backroom deal for Thaksin’s return last August were sparked after his eight-year sentence for power abuse as PM was reduced to one year by royal pardon and he was released from detention at the Police General Hospital after just six months.

Thaksin was granted parole release in February on grounds of poor health and old age.

Pichit was also asked whether Yingluck had told him she wished to return to Thailand. He said he had not spoken with Yingluck since informing her she had been acquitted in a case in March this year.

Yingluck, who was deposed by a military coup like her brother before her, fled the country just before being sentenced to five years in jail by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office on September 27, 2017.

The court found her guilty of negligence regarding her government’s rice-pledging scheme.

She has since been acquitted by the Supreme Court in two separate cases over the past few months.

In December, she was found not guilty of malfeasance in her order to transfer the National Security Council chief in 2011. In March, she was acquitted of malfeasance and collusion in awarding a 240-million-baht contract for a government PR campaign.

Phichit served six months in jail for contempt of court over a plot to bribe Supreme Court officials with a paper bag containing 2 million baht in cash while representing Thaksin in 2008.

He was initially included in the line-up for PM Srettha’s first Cabinet after the Pheu Thai-led government came to power last August but dropped out following widespread criticism over his controversial past record.

Asked about rumours he would be rewarded for his loyalty to Thaksin with the post of PM’s Office minister in Srettha’s upcoming reshuffle, Pichit denied any knowledge of such a deal.

“I know nothing. I am focused on my work and have not discussed it with the prime minister. I have not prepared my list of assets to declare either. I’m happy with my current position,” he said. - The Nation/ANN

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Thailand , Yingluck , return , lawyer


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