BANGKOK, Apr 23 – Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra more time to submit her defence against allegations of abuse of power which could see her removed from office.
The premier, who has faced a series of legal challenges to her tenure as well as months of sometimes violent anti-government street protests, must give her defence by May 2, the court said in a statement.
The case pivots on the transfer of then-national security chief Thawil Pliensri after Yingluck was elected in 2011.
A group of senators filed a complaint to the court over Thawil’s transfer, saying it was carried out for the benefit of Yingluck’s party.
Under the constitution – drawn up after a 2006 coup that ousted Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra as premier – such an offence could lead to her sacking.
The court granted Yingluck’s request for a 15-day extension – starting from last Friday, when she made the application – and said it “will hear four more witnesses on May 6” including Yingluck and Thawil.
But the statement did not indicate when the court may deliver its ruling.
Judicial agencies have moved to centre stage of the political drama, which has lasted almost six months. Apart from months of street protests which have now largely abated, the kingdom has not had a fully functioning government since December.
A February election intended to end the impasse was annulled.
Political violence has left at least 25 people dead and hundreds more wounded, raising fears of a wider conflict to come.
On Wednesday afternoon Kamol Duangpasuk – a pro-government “Red Shirt” poet and critic of Thailand’s controversial royal defamation laws – was shot dead in front of a Bangkok restaurant, according to local police.
But officers could not immediately confirm if the murder of the 44-year-old poet, also known by his pen name Mainueng Kor Kuntee, was politically motivated.