Thai ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra found guilty over rice subsidy policy

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The NSC chief was commenting on the search for the former premier who fled the country in the face of a lawsuit stemming from the rice pledging scheme introduced by her government.

Reaction to the five-year sentence was subdued, however, with local news reports saying less than 100 supporters gathered in front of the court for the verdict, many fewer than the thousands who converged on 25 August when Yingluck was originally to be sentenced.

Yingluck Shinawatra, the first Thai female Prime Minister.

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.

In an announcement released by the court, it read that even though the unmilled rice program was an act according to government policy that the cabinet had stated to the National Assembly, if the implementation of such policy was not in accordance with law, such acts could be inspected by the judicial process.

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"Which is a manner of seeking unlawful gains".

Her negligence incurred up to 500 billion baht loss to the state and also damaged the country's rice trading market.

Her lawyer said she was ill with an ear problem and could not appear in court. She vanished just as two officials from her administration's commerce agency were sentenced to decades in jail over the rice scheme.

The leader of the military junta, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, said on Tuesday that he knows where Yingluck is but would not reveal it until after the verdict is read. Reuters reported she fled to Dubai where her brother Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an award-winning columnist writing in the Bangkok Post and numerous foreign publications, is an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of political science, and director of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). The military seized power.