Deposed Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra filed a criminal case against the attorney general Tuesday alleging unfair handling of charges against her that could see her jailed for 10 years.
Thailand’s first woman prime minister faces charges in the Supreme Court of negligence in her management of a rice subsidy scheme the ruling junta says was tainted by graft and caused $16 billion in losses.
Rivalry between the royalist-military establishment and the Shinawatra family, in particular Yingluck’s brother, deposed populist premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has been at the heart of a decade of political turmoil in the kingdom.
The attorney general indicted Yingluck in January on the same day she was banned from politics for five years by a legislature appointed by the generals who toppled her government last year.
Yingluck’s legal team Tuesday drew attention to the timing of the indictment – an hour before the legislature’s impeachment began – and alleged the attorney general charged her without sufficient examination of evidence and witnesses.
The public prosecutor had included accusations related to corruption in the rice scheme and added 60,000 pages of material that had not been part of the case filed by the country’s anti-graft agency, Yingluck’s legal team said in a statement.
Yingluck told reporters the attorney general’s actions were “wrong and unfair”.
Her flagship rice policy aimed to boost farmers’ incomes by buying their grain at above market prices and helped sweep her to office in a landslide in 2011.
She insists she acted honestly in administering the scheme. Critics said it was aimed at winning votes in the countryside.
Yingluck’s supporters have accused the courts of bias in rulings against her and allies of the Shinawatra clan.
The prosecutor’s office denied that.
“The prosecutor took the rice scheme case in a straightforward manner,” said Chutichai Sakhakorn, the official at the Attorney General’s office responsible for Yingluck’s case. “There was no bullying.”
Yingluck was removed from power in May 2014 after a court found her guilty of abuse of power. Days later, the army staged a coup after months of sometimes violent street protests in Bangkok aimed at ousting her government.
Former telecoms tycoon Thaksin was removed in a coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for abuse of power.