An arrest warrant was issued on Friday for former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who failed to appear in court on the judgment day of a rice lawsuit filed against her.
Thai police check a bag of a woman who supports former Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra outside the Supreme Court where the court is expected to announce verdict on Yingluck in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.
Yingluck’s failure to appear in court prompted the Supreme Court to hand out the arrest warrant for the former premier now faced with duty-negligence charges pertaining to the rice subsidy program implemented nationwide years ago.
Protests and court cases have hacked at their governments and finances, followed by the 2014 coup.
After Yingluck failed to show up, the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant against her and rescheduled the verdict to September 27.
Cambodian immigration police said she had not entered their country.
She was impeached in 2015 by an army-backed legislature which also launched legal proceedings over her role in the controversial scheme.
Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said security forces had not allowed Yingluck to leave and are checking possible routes she may have used if she did.
Critics say they were effectively a means of vote-buying, while Shinawatra supporters welcomed them.
Both siblings remain popular among the rural poor, but are hated by an urban and middle-class elite.
“She did her best for us”.
As of 10am, many of Yingluck’s supporters were still unaware of developments.
In early August, she had denounced the trial as “political” conducted by the junta, accused of wanting to clean up the political scene of the influence of Shinawatra, which have won all national elections since 2001.
Outside the courthouse, Yingluck’s lawyer said she was suffering from Ménière’s disease and that severe headaches kept her from court. “I believe she is still in Thailand”.
Thitinan said Yingluck’s decision to skip the verdict hearing will have “emboldened” the military government. It certainly boosted her political support among rural populations, where the Shinawatras support base is strongest, but her government’s purchase of rice at above market prices backfired when the market collapsed.
“I just learned that she did not show up [at court]”, Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters.
She has pleaded innocent to the charges, saying she is the victim of a “subtle political game”. “All my life I’ve never sold rice at such a good price as when she was prime minister”, she said. Her brother, Thaksin, was also toppled by military generals in 2006 and forced into exile to avoid a 2008 graft allegation.
The programme cost the Thai government billions of dollars in losses. As Bangkok Post reports, former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was sentenced to 42 years in jail; his former deputy, Poom Sarapol, got 36 years.