In a brief hearing at the Supreme Court in Bangkok today, former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra pleaded not guilty to charges of negligence. The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for July 21.
Yingluck maintains the charges against her, which relate to a rice subsidy scheme, are politically motivated and insists she is innocent. If she is found guilty she could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The former prime minister was forced to step down from power in May 2014 prior to a military coup. The military junta that are currently in power in Thailand have made no secret of the fact that they wish to remove the influence of the Shinawatra family from Thai politics. Yingluck has already been banned from politics for 5 years and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, remains in self-imposed exile after being found guilty of corruption. Thaksin has always claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.
Thaksin was himself removed from office by a military coup in 2006. Despite that, pro-Thaksin parties have won every general election that has been held in Thailand since then. Speaking about the situation in Thailand in South Korea today, Thaksin Shinawatra said, “I think democracy will prevail sooner or later, but we have to be patient, and we have to be peaceful.”