Yingluck sentenced to prison in absentia

Thailand's Supreme Court on Wednesday found former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of malfeasance in a loss-ridden rice subsidy program and sentenced her in absentia to five years in jail, according to Xinhua.

Analysts say Yingluck likely cut a deal with the military leaders, who are bent on erasing her powerful clan from the political scene. She may not serve any prison time, though, as she is believed to have fled the country.

Nevertheless, it marks an unusual case in Thailand for a former prime minister to be found guilty for policies implemented during their tenure. "The verdict has effectively taken her out of politics", Kan told Reuters.

"The accused knew that the government-to-government rice contract was unlawful but did not prevent it", the court said in a statement. "I have spies", he said, adding that to his knowledge Ms Yingluck has not sought asylum overseas.

Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison for her role in the rice-buying scheme, introduced in 2011, which pledged to pay farmers well above the market rate for their crops.

Ex-premier Yingluck is known to have fled the country with unconfirmed report that she is now in London.

One Pheu Thai leading member said they have met and agreed not to come to court today as she is absent.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University, said the Puea Thai Party was now "rudderless".

The Supreme Court ruling was supposed to be read on August 25, but the 50-year-old failed to show up, stunning thousands of supporters who had gathered outside.

  • Delores Daniels