The Supreme Court will begin hearing testimony of witnesses for the defence in the trial of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on July 16 in his 76-billion-baht asset seizure case.
But the court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, through a panel of nine judges led by senior judge Somsak Netmai, yesterday rejected Thaksin’s request for a proxy to deliver his opening statement orally.
The court insisted Thaksin file his opening statement in writing.
The case was filed by the Office of the Attorney-General when it petitioned the court to seize Thaksin’s assets suspected of having been accumulated through conflicts of interest when he was premier from 2001 to 2006. The court set the hearing for 9.30am on July 16 and will start with defence witnesses.
The criminal procedure act governing cases involving holders of political office requires the accused to first prove to the court the source of their assets.
The prosection is seeking to impound 76 billion baht it claims Thaksin acquired through corruption.
Thaksin and his co-defendants will present 56 witnesses and the public prosecution 58 witnesses. The court ordered both sides to file the questions they will pose to witnesses with the court at least 15 days before the hearing.
Meanwhile, prosecutors yesterday postponed a decision to indict nine key members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to July 14 to wait for police to question more witnesses.
Kayasit Pisawongprakan, executive director for criminal litigation for the public prosecution, said police had yet to question some witnesses proposed by the PAD members.
PAD lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua said his clients wanted police to question 38 more witnesses. He said he was collecting their profiles to be sent to police.
PAD key figures Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Suriyasai Katasila, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Amorn Amornratananont and Terdpoom Jaidee are charged with illegal assembly to instigate national unrest and instigating the general public to breach the law.
Thaksin assets case to start in mid-July
The Supreme Court yesterday set July 16 for the beginning of its hearing into the Bt76 billion asset seizure case involving ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his family members.
The senior court also rejected a defence argument for an oral presentation of the opening statement, although it agreed to authorise the defence to gather and file additional evidence as deemed necessary.
The ruling against the oral statement was seen to pre-empt any attempt at theatrics. The high court allowed the opening statements for the defence and the prosecution to be submitted in written form.
In an earlier decision, the defence request for Thaksin to give his statement via video was also rejected. But his arguments will be accepted in writing.
For the upcoming testimony, the court instructed the defence and prosecution to file respec-tive lists of witnesses for exami-nation and cross-examination 15 days before each hearing.
Defence witnesses will testify first, before the prosecution’s. Should witnesses fail to appear according to the schedule, each side is obligated to rearrange the order of appearances so as not to disrupt the timetable.
The defence is due to call 56 witnesses, while the prosecution will summon 58. Each side has about 25 court sessions.