Former Thai PM appears in court over rice scheme

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Bangkok, April 22 (IANS/EFE) Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra appeared at a Bangkok court on Friday in an ongoing trial over corruption charges related to her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme, the media reported.

Yingluck smiled as she received flowers from supporters as she left the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, pressing her palms together in a traditional Thai ‘wai’ greeting.

The former prime minister, ousted in a coup by the current military government in May 2014, is accused of negligence over the rice subsidy scheme, which cost the state over 500 billion baht ($14.1 billion) in losses.

Yingluck’s rice plan was a key promise during the politician’s Pheu Thai party’s 2011 electoral campaign, and was also a major talking point for her opposition, which accused the government of mismanagement and corruption related to the scheme.

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Under the plan, the government bought rice from farmers at inflated prices, sometimes 50 percent higher than world market prices.

Fluctuations in market prices and mismanagement of the stockpiles led to huge losses, and most of the rice eventually spoiled.



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