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Thai Supreme Court Sentences Former Prime Minister To 5 Years In Absentia

Supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra hold signs and images of her last month, before she fled the country rather than face a verdict from the Supreme Court in Bangkok.

Thailand's Supreme Court imposed a five-year prison sentence on former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, nearly one month after she became a fugitive and the court issued an arrest warrant over charges of criminal negligence.

Shinawatra, who pleaded not guilty to the charges that carried a 10-year maximum, is believed to have fled the country.

A military coup removed Shinawatra from office in 2014. She faced negligence charges over her government's handling of rice deals with Chinese state enterprises that cost Thailand billions of dollars.

Shinawatra fled in late August, skipping out on a hearing where she was expected to learn the verdict in her criminal trial. She vanished just as two officials from her administration's commerce agency were sentenced to decades in jail over the rice scheme. Now that her sentence has been announced, a new warrant is being issued for her arrest, according to Thailand's The Nation.

As we've reported, "Thai media speculated that she might have fled the country and traveled to Singapore, on her way to to join her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown by the military in 2006."

Thaksin Shinawatra has been living in Dubai.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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