BANGKOK – The Supreme Court of Thailand has ordered former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to face trial for negligence in a controversial rice subsidy scheme.
Judge Veeraphol Tangsuwan said at the Supreme Court in Bangkok that the panel of judges had decided to accept the case as it fell within their authority. The first hearing is due to take place on May 19, 2015
Yingluck, didn’t attend Thursday’s court decision. She acknowledges the rice policy was a key part of her government’s platform but denies that it amounted to any wrongdoing and says she is the victim of political purge.
In statement posted on her verified Facebook page, Ms. Yingluck said that her prosecution was the first example in Thailand of a politician being tried for an economic policy. “The policy was designed to benefit the people and help the farmers. They elected me to do it,” she wrote. “I’m confident in my innocence and that the truth will come out.”
The scheme paid rice farmers in the rural areas, which were Shinawatra’s support base, in a programme that cost billions of dollars to the government.
The former prime minister is facing a 10-year-long prison sentence.
The case marks the latest blow to the dominance of the Shinawatra family in Thai politics after Yingluck was banned from politics for five years.
Her government was overthrown before the military took control in a coup in May last year following months of protests.
Yingluck was impeached for her role in the rice subsidy scheme by a military-appointed legislature in January.