Thai former PM to stand trial for negligence over rice losses

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Former Thailand prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will stand trial for negligence related to a rice subsidy programme overseen by her ousted government that lost billions of pounds.

Thailand’s most senior court made the announcement in a move likely to deepen the long-running political crisis in the military-ruled nation.

Supreme Court judge Weerapol Tangsuwan said a nine-member judicial panel studied documents submitted by prosecutors from the attorney general’s office last month and found the case was within the court’s jurisdiction. The case is expected to begin on May 19.

Yingluck was ousted by a separate court decision shortly before the military staged a coup last May and seized power from her elected government.

The legal proceedings are widely seen as part of a broader attempt to cripple the political machine of Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in another coup in 2006, and to prevent his allies from returning to power.

Yesterday’s announcement came two months after Yingluck was impeached on similar grounds by a military-appointed rubber-stamp legislature, which banned her from politics for five years.

Prosecutors from the office of the attorney general had submitted 20 boxes of documents to the Supreme Court’s criminal division for political title holders. They accused Yingluck of dereliction in overseeing the subsidy programme, which temporarily cost Thailand its crown as the world’s top rice exporter.

The national anti-corruption commission had earlier recommended that the finance ministry sue Yingluck for compensation for damage caused by the rice programme and suggested the amount should be at least 600 billion baht (£12.3bn).

The rice-buying programme, a flagship policy that helped Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party win elections in 2011, had accumulated losses of at least £3bn since it was introduced in 2011, as the Thai government stockpiled rice to avoid even bigger losses.