Thai Court Prepares Arrest Warrant For Ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra

Thailand's Supreme Court postponed its verdict due Friday on ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra'sill-fated 2011 rice subsidy scheme until September 27 and said it would issue a warrant for her arrest. Yingluck failed to appear, reportly saying she was too sick to attend court. Hundreds of her supporters had gathered nearby, facing a turnout of 4,000 police. Thai military-backed authorities had threatened legal action against Yingluck supporters Friday as the nation awaited the verdict on whether Yingluck was negligent in raising rice prices for farmers just her party won election in 2011.

Yingluck has pleaded not guilty while prosecutors allege staggering losses to the state resulted from the scheme. She herself is being held liable for about $1 billion. If convicted, Yingluck has the right to appeal, but could end up with 10 years jail. The scheme left Thailand with inflated rice prices, unable to compete with other Asian growers such as India, knocking Thailand from its top exporter perch. Before her verdict, the court was expected to rule on Yingluck's former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who is accused of falsifying rice deals between Thailand and China in 2013.

Already, Yingluck is subject to a five-year ban from politics, imposed by the military junta's legislature in 2015 for alleged graft in the rice program. Since her administration was removed in a 2014 coup, Thailand's junta has clamped down , suppressing dissent and banning political gatherings of more than five persons. On Thursday, the former premier urged her followers via social media to stay away from the court complex, saying she was worried about their safety.

The case is part of a decade-long struggle between a movement founded by Yingluck's brother, Thaksin, embraced by Thailand's northern rural poor and an elite comprising royalists, the military and their urban backers.
Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled in a coup in 2006. Current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup against Yingluck's government, has promised an election next year, but under a constitutional change that would grant it future influence.


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