Thai prosecutors indict ex-PM Yingluck over rice subsidy scheme

Thailand`s Attorney General filed charges to the Supreme Court against deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday, in a case that could result in a 10-year jail term if she is found guilty.

Reuters| Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015, 10:57 AM IST
Thai prosecutors indict ex-PM Yingluck over rice subsidy scheme

Bangkok: Thailand`s Attorney General filed charges to the Supreme Court against deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday, in a case that could result in a 10-year jail term if she is found guilty.

Yingluck was charged with negligence for her role in a subsidy scheme that paid farmers above market prices for their rice that has cost the state billions of dollars. She denies wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court would decide on March 19 whether or not to pursue the case, court secretary Theerathai Charoenwong said. Charges against her include two of negligence and one under the anti-corruption law.

It has been a tumultuous year for Yingluck, Thailand`s first woman prime minister, who was deposed days before a May coup that followed months of street protests and occupations of government buildings.

Yingluck was ordered to step down after a court found her guilty of abuse of power days before the army took power.

She was also banned from office for five years in January after Thailand`s military-stacked legislature found her guilty of dereliction of duty in relation to the rice scheme.

Her critics say the scheme was a misguided attempt by Yingluck to mimic the economic policies of her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose policies won him huge support in Thailand`s rural areas.

Her supporters say the charges against her are designed to limit the influence of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup but still wields enormous influence over Thailand`s political affairs.

Despite winning every election since 2006, parties allied to Thaksin have never served a full term in office since then because of court decisions or military intervention.

Shinawatra supporters accuse the courts of bias in ruling against governments loyal to Thaksin and of siding with the elite.

Thai people have been divided in their loyalties to political factions for over a decade.

Army rule has brought some stability but the junta`s national reconciliation plan has, so far, failed to reverse a deep-rooted and intractable conflict.