Thai PM defends negligence charges as economy falters

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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday defended herself against negligence charges linked to a ruinous government rice pledging scheme that could lead to her removal from office, the latest development in a political crisis that has gripped the country for months. The charges were brought against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) which, should it forward the case to the Senate for possible impeachment, would mean Yingluck being suspended from official duties. Yingluck asked for more time to call on 10 witnesses and to submit further documents to support her defense, NACC member Prasart Pongsivapai told reporters following the meeting. The commission will act with justice toward the prime minister and in a straight-forward manner." Yingluck has come under pressure over the past five months from protesters who have occupied state offices and parts of Bangkok in a bid to remove her and rid the country of the influence of her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.