Yingluck complains about rice probe

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra filed a complaint through her lawyer on Tuesday against the National Anti-Corruption Commission's rejection of her request for additional defence witnesses in the investigation into her government's loss-ridden rice pledging scheme.

Norawit Lalaeng filed the complaint letter at the NACC head office on Tuesday morning, protesting against the decision to reject Ms Yingluck's request.

He said that Ms Yingluck might not receive fair treatment as the NACC had refused to check the government's stocks of pledged rice, and turned down eight additional witnesses she had proposed calling in her defence.

Mr Norawit said Ms Yingluck argued that 2.97 million tonnes of pledged rice was not missing as a rice accounting sub-committee headed by Supa Piyajitti, former deputy permanent secretary for finance, had reported. 

Mr Norawat said Ms Yingluck proposed in vain that the NACC directly question witnesses including the president of the Public Warehouse Organisation and the acting director of the Marketing Organisation for Farmers, who would testify to the existence of the 2.97 million tonnes of rice.

The lawyer also argued that the calculation of stocked rice depreciation and losses by the accounting sub-committee was doubtful. Besides, he said, the stocked rice had not all been sold, so damage from the rice-pledging scheme could not be assessed for the time being.

Refusal to question Ms Yingluck's proposed witnesses was unfair and society understood that corruption really happened in the rice-pledging scheme, Mr Norawat said.

Receiving the complaint letter, NACC deputy secretary-general Witthaya Arkompitak said commission staff were checking the stocks of pledged rice, together with staff from the National Council for Peace and Order,  and they had found that rice was missing and grain had deteriorated. 

He said that the NACC would take legal action in any case where more than 5% of the reported rice stock was missing at a warehouse.

ML Panadda Diskul, acting permanent secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, said after inspecting the rice warehouses in Suphan Buri’s Sri Prachan district today no rice was missing at the warehouses here and the sacks were stacked up neatly.

This shows there are some good warehouse that could be used as a model for others nationwide, he said.

Several problems had been discovered since the nationwide warehouse inspection began last weekend.

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