Former Thai Leader Yingluck Faces Arrest After Failing to Appear for Verdict – New York Times

 In World

Her no-show in court was the latest twist in the drama of a political family that transformed Thai politics by capturing support of the rural poor with promises to raise living standards.

She is charged with mismanaging a rice subsidy initiative while in office, costing the country $8 billion. A conviction could effectively ban her from political activities for life.

Hours after her scheduled hearing, the same court sentenced her former commerce minister, Boonsong Teriyapirom, to 42 years in prison on corruption charges related to the rice subsidy program.

More than a thousand of Ms. Yingluck’s supporters gathered in the capital in the vicinity of the courthouse hours before Friday’s scheduled hearing, but the police blocked roadways and set up barricades to prevent the crowd from getting close. The supporters showed up even though she had told them not to do so.

Ms. Yingluck’s lawyer notified the court that she had Meniere’s disease, which causes fluid buildup in the eardrums, and was suffering dizziness and severe headaches, but the court did not accept the excuse because Ms. Yingluck had not sent a doctor’s certificate. It rescheduled the verdict for Sept. 27. The court also ordered her to forfeit her bail of 30 million baht, about $900,000.

Photo

Ms. Yingluck’s lawyer, Norawit Larlaeng, center, outside the courthouse. He told reporters that he had learned of her illness only an hour before the hearing.

Credit
Narong Sangnak/European Pressphoto Agency

The case centers on whether Ms. Yingluck mismanaged a subsidy program that led to a stockpile of rotting rice.

Unlike her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled the country after he was overthrown by the military in 2006 and was convicted in absentia on corruption charges, Ms. Yingluck remained in Thailand and fought the charges against her.

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