Health Care

First female Thai PM sentenced to 5 years in jail

First female Thai PM sentenced to 5 years in jail

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been sentenced to a five-year prison term by a court in Thailand after she was found guilty of negligence in a rice subsidy case.

The 50-year-old Yingluck fled Thailand in late August and is reportedly in Dubai with her billionaire brother, Thaksin, who was overthrown as PM in a 2006 coup.

Whether Yingluck is found guilty and sentenced to up to ten years in prison, found guilty and given a suspended sentence, or even acquitted, the conduct of Thai political life will never be quite the same again.

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A military coup removed Shinawatra from office in 2014.

Yingluck's trial involved accusations that while prime minister she failed to stop corruption in a rice subsidy programme that helped finance her family's rural base in the northeast.

"The accused knew that the government-to-government rice contract was unlawful but did not prevent it", the court said in a statement.

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It was further added, "Which is a manner of seeking unlawful gains". She vanished just as two officials from her administration's commerce agency were sentenced to decades in jail over the rice scheme.

Ex-premier Yingluck is known to have fled the country with unconfirmed report that she is now in London. Losses amounted to US$8 billion (S$10.9 billion), the military government has said.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University, said the Puea Thai Party was now "rudderless". The military seized power.

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