April 23rd, 2024

Thai court acquits former PM Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of mishandling government funds

By The Associated Press on March 4, 2024.

FILE - Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme Court to make her final statements in a trial on a charge of criminal negligence in Bangkok, Thailand, on Aug. 1, 2017. A Thai court on Monday, March 4, 2024, dropped a charge against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, now living in exile, for mishandling government project expenditure in 2013. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

BANGKOK (AP) – A Thai court on Monday acquitted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, now living in exile, on charges of mishandling expenditures for a government project in 2013.

The action comes shortly after her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who also previously served as prime minister, was released on parole for corruption-related offenses. Last year, he returned home after more than a decade of self-imposed exile, and was detained in a hospital for six months before being granted clemency because of his age and ill health.

Thaksin’s release, after almost two decades of antipathy between his populist political machine and Thailand’s conservative royalist ruling class, raised speculation that Yingluck also might be returning soon.

It was the latest favorable verdict for Yingluck, who was prime minister from 2011 until she was forced from office in 2014. In December last year, the same court cleared Yingluck of abuse of power in connection with a personnel transfer she had overseen.

The judges unanimously acquitted Yingluck and five other defendants accused of mishandling 240 billion baht ($6.7 billion) that had been earmarked for a roadshow to tout investors on an ambitious infrastructure plan, according to a press release from a special body under a division of the Supreme Court that handles criminal cases against political officeholders.

Yingluck, now 56, was the first female prime minister of Thailand.

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