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Thai Supreme Court issues arrest warrant for former prime minister

By Ray Downs
Thai Supreme Court issues arrest warrant for former prime minister
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not show up to hear a court verdict on Friday and the country's Supreme Court issued a warrant for her arrest. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Thailand's Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for failing to appear in court to hear the verdict in her two-year negligence trial.

Yingluck's attorney said she could not attend the verdict because she was ill, reported CNN. He also said that he didn't know if Yingluck was in Thailand or another country.

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A new verdict hearing has been set for Sep. 27.

Yingluck, who is out on bail, faces up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban in politics for charges that she mismanaged a major rice subsidy program and cost the Thai government billions of dollars.

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She has maintained her innocence and contends that the charges against her are political. Yingluck comes from a wealthy and powerful family that has been at odds with Thailand's political establishment, according to Time.

Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications billionaire who was elected prime minister in 2001, had widespread support among the country's poor, but was ousted in a military coup for corruption allegations.

Yingluck came to power in 2011 and soon after delved into the controversial rice subsidy program, which wreaked havoc on the country's rice market.

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According to The Diplomat, the strategy was for the government of Thailand, the largest rice producer in the world at the time, to buy rice from farmers at inflated prices, raise global prices by stockpiling rice and then reselling the rice at higher prices.

But instead of being a boon for Thailand, other rice-producing countries like India and Vietnam stepped up their production to fill the gap left by Yingluck's program, causing big losses for Thailand and its rice farmers, many of whom weren't paid what the government had promised them.

Other problems led to Yingluck following in her brother's footsteps as the military enacted another coup and put General Prayuth Chan-ocha in charge of the country.

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