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Ousted Thai Leader Charged With Negligence, Could Face Jail

Thailand's Attorney Director General, Department of Special Litigation Chutichai Sakhakorn, right, holds filed charging papers as Director General, Department of Investigation, Surasak Threerattrakul looks on at the Supreme Court in Bangkok Thursday.

Thailand's attorney general filed criminal charges against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Thursday. The former leader, who was forced out of office last May, could be jailed for 10 years if she's found guilty.

From Chiang Rai, Thailand, Michael Sullivan reports for our Newscast unit:

"Yingluck was charged with negligence for her role in a badly bungled rice subsidy scheme that ended up costing the country billions. She denies any wrongdoing and insists the charges against her are politically motivated.

"Yingluck was removed from power in May after another questionable ruling. Just days later, the coup-prone Thai military seized power, removing what was left of Yingluck's democratically-elected government.

"Officials today said the Supreme Court has one month to decide whether to go ahead with the case. Yingluck was not present for today's ruling but says she will appear if the case goes ahead. The Thai military denied a request by Yingluck to travel out of the country earlier this month, insisting she stay to face the charges against her."

Thai lawmakers voted to impeach Shinawatra, the sister of previously ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, over the rice subsidy program last month. At the same time, they also banned her from Thai politics for five years.

Responding to that development in January, Shinawatra released a statement saying, "Democracy has died in Thailand today, along with the rule of law."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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