Thai court accepts case against ex-PM Yingluck
THAILAND'S Supreme Court accepted a criminal case against ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday on a charge of mishandling a multi-billion-dollar rice subsidy scheme, and she could be jailed for 10 years if found guilty.
"This case is in the Supreme Court's jurisdiction, so we have accepted the case and we have set the first court hearing for May 19," the court said in a statement.
Yingluck was banned from politics for five years in January, after a military-backed legislature found her guilty of corruption related to the rice subsidy.
Yingluck, who did not appear in court yesterday, has denied the charges.
She has also defended the rice policy, which bought rice from farmers at above-market prices, and has said the charges against her are politically motivated.
"Throughout my time as prime minister, I worked honestly and I did my duties correctly, according to the provisions of the Constitution and the law in every respect," she said in a Facebook post.
"The rice policy was one that the public trusted me to perform."
Her supporters see the case as the latest step by the royalist, military establishment to eradicate the influence of her powerful political family, in particular that of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, also an ousted former premier.
The military ousted Yingluck's government last May, saying it had to step in to end violent protests by establishment supporters bent on ousting what they said was an administration riddled with corruption.
Critics denounce the rice scheme as a populist giveaway to the Shinawatras' rural support base.
The Finance Minister said on Feb 24 that rice stockpiles stood at 17.5 million tonnes and the estimated loss incurred by the scheme totalled US$16.46 billion (S$22.9 billion).
The military government is still struggling to offload rice stockpiled under the scheme.