Yingluck fails to show for Thai verdict

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 25 Aug 2017, 09:55:27
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Yingluck trial: Thai ex-PM fails to show for verdict

Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has failed to show up for the verdict in her trial over a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

Lawyers for Ms Yingluck, who is charged with negligence, said she was ill.

But the Supreme Court said it will issue an arrest warrant for her and has delayed the verdict to 27 September.

She has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost billions of dollars. If found guilty, she faces jail and a lifetime ban from politics.

On Friday Ms Yingluck's lawyers requested a delay in the ruling, telling the court that she had vertigo and was unable to attend.

But an official Supreme Court statement said prosecutors "do not believe the defendant is indeed ill as there is no medical certificate, and the condition that she claimed is not so severe that she cannot travel to the court".

Ms Yingluck, who became Thailand's first female prime minister in 2011, was impeached in 2015 over the rice scheme by a military-backed legislature, which also brought on the legal case.

But she remains popular. Hundreds of her supporters turned up outside the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Friday, amid a heavy police presence.

Ms Yingluck's rice subsidy scheme, which was part of her election campaign platform, launched in 2011 shortly after she took office.

It was aimed at boosting farmers' incomes and alleviating rural poverty, and saw the government paying farmers nearly twice the market rate for their crop.

But it hit Thailand's rice exports hard, leading to a loss of at least $8bn (£6.25bn) and huge stockpiles of rice which the government could not sell.

Though popular with her rural voter base, opponents said the scheme was too expensive and open to corruption.

During her trial, Ms Yingluck had argued she was not responsible for the day-to-day running of the scheme. She has insisted she is a victim of political persecution.

Ms Yingluck's time in office was overshadowed by controversy as well as strong political opposition.

The youngest sister of tycoon and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck was seen by her opponents as a proxy for her brother, who was controversially ousted by the military in 2006.

Both siblings remain popular among the rural poor, but are hated by an urban and middle-class elite.

Their Pheu Thai party has - under various different names - won every election in Thailand since 2001.

 
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