Thailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivers final court statement

August 1, 2017 1:31 pm

Former Thai prime minister waves to supporters as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on August 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has delivered her final defense ahead of a court verdict regarding charges of negligence in her handling of a multi-billion dollar rice-buying scheme.
“Today, I will deliver a verbal closing statement to the court. I am confident that there was no wrongdoing and maintain my innocence,” Shinawatra told reporters before entering the court on Tuesday.
“The rice scheme was a useful program that benefited farmers,” she said, adding, “I hope that there will be justice.”
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 supporters showed up outside the court in Bangkok in defiance of a government warning not to gather.
Her supporters chanted “Fight! Fight!” to Shinawatra as she arrived for the hearing.
Shinawatra, who led a democratically-elected government from 2011 to 2014, has rejected the charges of negligence and graft against her.
During her tenure, her  administration introduced a scheme to buy rice from farmers at above market prices, store it, and resell it later at a higher price. The plan appealed to farmers, who make up nearly 40 percent of Thailand’s labor force.
But the scheme later backfired and caused Thailand to lose its position as the world’s no.1 exporter of rice. Thailand also ended up with 18 million tons of rice in stock piles, which the military government has auctioned off since it took power in a coup in May 2014.
Shinawatra was banned from for five years in 2015. Last week, the government said it had frozen her assets, including bank accounts and dozens of properties in relation to a administrative order to claim back money lost from the rice scheme.
The court is due to issue a ruling in the case on August 25.
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