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Yingluck did not show up at the court where thousands of supporters awaited on Aug. 25 (Photo by Yukako Ono)
Politics

Thailand's Yingluck claims illness, fails to appear in court

Former PM faces arrest as reading of verdict in rice-subsidy trial postponed

BANGKOK -- Claiming illness, Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra failed to appear in court on Friday, where she was expected to hear the verdict in the trial accusing her of negligence over her government's rice-subsidy program.

The court will issue an arrest warrant and impose a fine of 30 million baht. The former prime minister will also be required to submit a doctor's certificate for court approval by this afternoon.

"The defendant appears to have escaped her judgement," the judge said after announcing Yingluck's no-show. "She claims she has Meniere disease and has a bad headache. But the court does not believe that she is too ill to appear, so we have ordered issuance of an arrest warrant."

Reading of the verdict will be rescheduled for Sept. 27. If found guilty, Yingluck will face up to 10 years in jail.

Launched in 2011, the rice-subsidy program was touted as Yingluck's flagship policy. Under the program, the government promised to buy rice from farmers at up to 50% above market prices. This is estimated to have saddled the government with losses of 500 billion baht ($150.2 billion).

Her administration was eventually toppled in a May 2014 military coup led by current Prime Minster Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Farmers in the north and northeast of Thailand are the main supporters of Yingluck's Pheu Thai party. The party inherited the support base of her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now in self-exile after being ousted in a 2006 military coup.

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