Yingluck sentenced in absentia to 5 years in prison

Yingluck sentenced in absentia to 5 years in prison

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Aug 1, when she made her closing statement on her rice-scheme case. (Photo by Seksan Rojjanametakun)
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Aug 1, when she made her closing statement on her rice-scheme case. (Photo by Seksan Rojjanametakun)

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Wednesday sentenced former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to five years in jail for failing to stop fake and corruption-plagued government-to-government (G2G) sales of rice from her rice-pledging scheme.

The court stated that Yingluck had been aware of corruption in G2G deals with some Chinese state enterprises because House representatives had raised the issue during their no-confidence debates and she had removed Boonsong Teriyapirom from the commerce minister's position on June 30, 2013. Boonsong supervised G2G rice deals.

However, it said, Yingluck failed to stop the delivery of rice under so-called G2G deals which let corruption in those deals continue. The failure was tantamount to dishonest dereliction of duty in violation of the Criminal Code and the anti-corruption law, which justified the five-year jail term.

The court described how the G2G deals with Chinese state enterprises - Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Import & Export Corp and Hainan Grain & Oil Industrial Trading Co - enabled local rice traders to dishonestly obtain the pledged rice from her government and benefit from it.

The court also said that traders involved in previous corrupt rice trading and an assistant to a former MP from her Pheu Thai Party represented the Chinese state enterprises in the rice deals.

The court did not hold Yingluck responsible for other corrupt activities and losses related to the rice scheme, including fake reports on pledged rice as well as rice losses and deterioration, because those were the responsibilities of officials at operational levels.

The court dismissed her claim that the National Anti-Corruption Commission had no authority to examine her role in the rice-pledging scheme.

The attorney-general was the plaintiff in the case. According to the complaint, Yingluck's rice-pledging scheme offered 15,000-20,000 baht per tonne of paddy for five crops from 2011 to 2014.

Concerned organisations had warned her of losses and corruption in the scheme, and as of May 2013 its accumulated losses reached 332 billion baht.

The court announced its ruling in Yingluck's absentia. The announcement was postponed from Aug 25, when she failed to appear. A warrant was then issued for her arrest. 

Her lawyers and some supporters showed up at the court in Laksi district, Bangkok, on Wednesday, but neither key members of her Pheu Thai Party nor political activists were seen.


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