Bangkok – Toppled Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra was mobbed Friday by well-wishers, many bearing red roses, as she arrived for what could be the final hearing in a trial for criminal negligence that carries a 10-year jail term.
She is accused of negligence over a rice subsidy policy that funneled cash to her poor, rural farming base but cost the Thai exchequer billions of dollars.
Her supporters say the case is driven by the junta that booted her from office in 2014 and is determined to expunge her super-rich clan from Thailand’s political scene.
Her brother Thaksin, who heads the Shinawatra family, was toppled as premier in a 2006 coup and fled the country over corruption convictions.
Yingluck’s case is the first time a Thai premier has faced charges for the outcome of a policy in a country where populist handouts are commonplace and military spending passes without serious scrutiny.
She wiped away tears as she embraced supporters and posed for pictures with the crowd of some 500 supporters massed outside of the Bangkok court, holding roses and balloons.
”I want to thank all of the media and people who came here to support me,” she said in a brief comment to the press.
If the remaining witnesses are heard, Friday could see Yingluck give a final defense statement – although legal argument could prolong the case.
Once the trial is over judges have a month to deliver a verdict.
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