Former Thai PM to face court

First female Thai Prime Minister faces charges with rice subsidies scheme, stands trial

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will stand trial on Tuesday in connection with catastrophic rice subsidies scheme, less than one year being toppled with a coup.

Yingluck Shinawatra, the first female prime minister ever chosen in Thailand, may face a decade-long prison sentence due to claims that she paid double price to the farmers in the rural Shinawatra heartland for their rice crops, regarding the market rate.

The accusations towards Yingluck Shinawatra are not based on corruption, but failing to prevent agricultural programme, which costs billions of dollars to the Thai economy, according to the claims.

However, there are speculations claiming that the claims have been orchestrated by the military junta with the aim to rid Thailand’s politics of the Shinawatra family, which  has been at the heart of Thai politics since 1998.

Yingluck Shinawatra claimed a victory with 48 percent of the votes in the previous elections, while the nearest opponent  the Democrat Party's Abhisit Vejjajiva took 35 percent. However, she shared the same political fate with his brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who had been the premier of Thailand between 2001 to 2006 until a military coup dismissed his government and sent him into an exile.

Yingluck Shinawatra said on Sunday she would read an opening statement in her defence during the Tuesday's trial.

Earlier in February, when the criminal charges were first revealed against her, she defended her actions on her rice pricing programme as a move to “lift the quality of life for rice farmers."

"As prime minister, I was always honest and served the Thai people who voted for my government. I have not done anything wrong at all," she said.

The Shinawatra family has faced two coups and three removals of premiers by Thailand courts since 2001 with also parties allied to them, as well as their family members.

The brother-in-law to Yingluck and Thaksin, former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, is facing charges over crackdown in 2008 against anti-Shinawatra protesters.

TRTWorld and agencies