Arrest warrant issued against ex-Prime Minister in Thailand

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Former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
Former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Bangkok : The Supreme Court of Thailand on Friday issued an arrest warrant against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after she failed to appear for the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidies scheme.

The court scheduled the hearing for September 27 and issued the arrest warrant after her lawyer failed to provide documents proving her state of health, reports Efe news.

Yingluck is accused of negligence as part of the rice subsidies scheme which an anti-corruption commission said cost the country 600 billion baht ($18 billion) in losses and also led to corruption. 

The scheme, introduced in 2011, pledged to pay farmers well above the market rate for their crop, and ended up costing the country billions, reports CNN.

Yingluck said the rice subsidy scheme was "beneficial for the farmers and the country" and that claims it lost money were wrong and motivated by political bias against her.

If convicted, the former leader faces upto 10 years in prison.

Thousands of Yingluck's supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Court here despite a plea from her on Facebook to stay away due to security concerns. 

More than 3,000 officers have been deployed to the streets outside the court. 

When she was inaugurated in 2011, Yingluck became Thailand's first female Prime Minister and its youngest in over 60 years.

The sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck was ousted by a coup in 2014 and was later impeached by Thailand's military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. 

The ruling barred her from political office for five years.