Asia

Thai military denies former PM Yingluck right to travel

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at her impeachment hearing, 22 January 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra denies charges against her

Thailand former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been denied permission to travel overseas.

A spokesman for the military-backed government said the move was designed to make sure she was in the country to face criminal charges later this month.

She is accused of corruption in a scheme she oversaw to subsidise rice farmers which could result in a 10-year jail term. She denies the charges.

She was also banned from politics following her impeachment in January.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thailand's former army chief and now prime minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha

The former prime minister had asked for permission to leave the country until 22 February, government spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said.

He added that the attorney general was due to submit a subpoena on 19 February and she would have to be present for the case to go ahead.

Ms Yingluck's lawyer said it was not necessary for her to appear in court for at least two months and if the military government used her case as an excuse to deny her the right to travel, that would be a "violation of her basic rights".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yingluck Shinawatra's brother is ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who ruled the country from 2001 to 2006 and is still said to be an influential figure.

Yingluck Shinawatra became Thailand's first female prime minister in July 2011.

She remained in her post until the Constitutional Court forced her to step down in early May 2014 after finding her guilty of abusing her power.

Weeks later, the military seized power and suspended the constitution saying it was necessary to restore order after months of protests against Ms Yingluck's government.

Her impeachment in January led to a five-year ban from politics.

The allegations against Ms Yingluck centre on a scheme in which her Pheu Thai-led government bought rice from Thai farmers at a much higher price than on the global market.

It resulted in the accumulation of huge stockpiles of rice and hit Thailand's rice exports hard.

Anti-corruption investigators have accused Ms Yingluck and her party of using the scheme to buy votes from farmers, particularly from their power base in the north, and allowing government associates to profit from it.

Ms Yingluck has maintained that she was not involved in the scheme's day-to-day operations, and has defended it as an attempt to support the rural poor.

Her supporters say the charges against her are designed to limit the influence of her brother, the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


Thailand's troubles

  • September 2006: Army ousts Thaksin Shinawatra
  • December 2007: Pro-Thaksin party wins election
  • August 2008: Mr Thaksin flees Thailand
  • December 2008: Huge anti-Thaksin protests; court bans ruling party; Democrat's Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power
  • March-May 2010: Huge pro-Thaksin protests; dozens killed in army crackdown
  • July 2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Mr Thaksin, elected PM
  • November 2013: Anti-government protests begin
  • May 2014: Ms Yingluck removed from office; military launches coup
  • August 2014: Coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha named PM by legislature hand-picked by military

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