Yingluck gets five years’ jail in ab­sen­tia

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Supreme Court con­victed and sen­tenced for­mer prime min­is­ter Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra in ab­sen­tia to five years in prison on Wed­nes­day for mis­man­ag­ing a rice sub­sidy scheme that cost the coun­try billions of dol­lars.

Yingluck fled abroad last month fear­ing that the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, set up after a coup in 2014, would seek a harsh sen­tence.

For more than a decade, Thai pol­i­tics have been dom­i­nated by a power struggle be­tween Thailand’s tra­di­tional elite, in­clud­ing the army and af­flu­ent Bangkok­based up­per classes, and the Shi­nawa­tra fam­ily, which in­cludes Yingluck’s brother, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra, who was also ousted by a coup.

Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison for neg­li­gence over the costly scheme that had helped get her elected in 2011. She had pleaded in­no­cent and ac­cused the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment of po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion.

Nine judges voted unan­i­mously to find Yingluck guilty in ver­dict read­ing that took four hours, and a war­rant was is­sued for her ar­rest.

The court said Yingluck knew that mem­bers of her ad­min­is­tra­tion had fal­si­fied gov­ern­mentto-gov­ern­ment rice deals but did noth­ing to stop it.

“The ac­cused knew that the gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment rice con­tract was un­law­ful but did not pre­vent it...,” the Supreme Court said.

“Which is a man­ner of seek­ing un­law­ful gains. There­fore, the ac­tion of the ac­cused is con­sid­ered neg­li­gence of duty,” it said.

A for­mer com­merce min­is­ter in her gov­ern­ment was jailed for 42 years last month for fal­si­fy­ing gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment rice deals in con­nec­tion with the sub­sidy scheme. Nor­rawit Lar­laeng, a lawyer for Yingluck, told re­porters out­side the court that an ap­peal was be­ing dis­cussed.

The Shi­nawa­tras had com­manded huge sup­port by court­ing ru­ral vot­ers, help­ing them to win ev­ery gen­eral elec­tion since 2001, but their foes ac­cused them of cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism.

Un­der the rice scheme, Yingluck’s gov­ern­ment bought rice from farm­ers at above-mar­ket prices, lead­ing to stock­piles and dis­torted global prices. Full story @ time­so­fo­man.com/world

- Reuters File

CON­VICTED: Ousted for­mer Thai Prime Min­is­ter Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra ar­rives at the crim­i­nal court in Bangkok, Thailand, on Septem­ber 29, 2015.

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