Watana slams NACC indictment over Baan Ua-arthorn

Watana Muangsook holds a briefing at Pheu Thai Party’s head office to respond to the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s decision to seek an indictment for his involvement in the alleged graft involving the Ua-arthorn low-cost housing scheme. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

Watana Muangsook, a Pheu Thai Party key figure, has slammed an anti-graft agency’s decision to recommend an indictment against him over the Baan Ua-arthorn low-cost housing scheme, saying it is politically motivated.

According to Thai media reports, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) early this year recommended former social development and social security minister Wattana Muangsuk be indicted for involvement in alleged graft involving the Ua-arthorn low-cost housing scheme.

On Wednesday, a report just emerged of the agency having sent the case ”quietly” to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG). 

However, an NACC source said the OAG had rejected the NACC’s move, saying the investigation was incomplete. The OAG also called for a joint panel with the NACC to make further inquiries.

Mr Watana is accused of demanding bribes in an 8.9-billion-baht Ua-arthorn housing project initiated by the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

Speaking at Pheu Thai headquarters on Thursday, Mr Watana, who is among the most vocal in opposition to the regime, said that the move was politically motivated, an attempt at stifling criticism of those in power.

He said that he only learned from the media that the NACC had quietly sent the case the OAG and the NACC had never summoned him to explain himself. 

He said that those in power often use legal cases handled by the NACC to intimidate him, though Mr Watana insisted that he would not stop criticising.

Commenting on the government’s ongoing efforts to foster reconciliation, Mr Watana said that the bid to build unity was still a long way off because opponents of the government were still being discriminated against and efforts were made to speed up cases against government opponents.

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