Bangkok: Thailand government has rejected a request from former premier Yingluck Shinawatra to travel overseas to ensure that she is in the country to face criminal charges in the controversial rice-pledging scheme.
47-year-old Yingluck, the country's first woman premier, submitted a request to the National Council for Peace and Order to travel to Hong Kong to meet her elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Bangkok Post reported.
The NCPO rejected the request as Yingluck has to be indicted in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions over the rice-pledging scheme.
Yingluck has also been impeached by the National Legislative Assembly after the National Anti-Corruption Commission filed a motion against her.
NCPO spokesman Winthai Suwaree confirmed yesterday that Yingluck's request was rejected because the case against her was already under legal process.
"Since the case is now in the commencement stage, it is necessary (for the NCPO) to coordinate with the several agencies concerned to seek legal advice on the right way to handling the matter," Suwaree said.
Suwaree said there are many people who need permission from the NCPO to travel abroad. In submitting a request to the NCPO, most of them do not want the matter to become public.
Therefore, some of the requests were approved without fanfare for the sake of privacy, he added.
Yingluck was impeached by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) over a controversial rice subsidy scheme, which, though popular, cost billions of dollars and triggered protests that toppled her government.
Under the scheme, the crop was purchased from farmers at around twice the market prices.
However, Yingluck's lawyer said she has full right to travel abroad, as her criminal case over the rice-pledging scheme had not been filed in court yet.
"In criminal litigation, suspects are innocent until proven guilty. All the charters of the country guaranteed the rights and liberty of suspects, even in Provision 4 of the interim charter," the lawyer said.
The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders had different legal procedures from other courts, he said.
The court did not require the presence of suspects when prosecutors file an indictment, citing as example the case against former premier Somchai Wongsawat.
"The NCPO may seek legal counsel from concerned agencies. We have to ensure convenience to those who seek permission but at the same time this should not affect the trial procedures," Wongsawat said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday declined to comment over Yingluck's travel plan and the junta decision to prohibit her.
Updated Date: Feb 09, 2015 16:04:05 IST