BANGKOK, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Thailand's former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra attended a court hearing on Friday over a rice subsidy scheme during her administration, which allegedly incurred losses of billions of U.S. dollars.
The former lady leader appeared before the Supreme Court in the first defendant hearing, during which prosecutors made inquiries into the controversial rice program implemented by her Puea Thai (for Thai) Party-led government years ago.
Hundreds of her supporters gathered to cheer her up under close watch of policemen outside the court compound.
A working group of the Prime Minister's Office under current Thai leader Prayut Chan-o-cha has held Yingluck, as head of the previous government, responsible for 8.2 billion U.S. dollars in damages for the allegedly corrupt, loss-ridden rice program in an earlier hearing at the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, Yingluck maintained that she had merely intended to have the rice farmers nationwide fairly benefit from her populist program and categorically dismissed allegations that she had failed to combat alleged corruption in the program run by senior government officials.
Yingluck, who has already been banned from politics for five years since January 2015, denied that she had deliberately turned blind eye to alleged scams of any government officials or rice dealers to make undue gains.
She said some documents and personal witnesses which could have been otherwise useful to her legal battle in court had not been taken into account during court hearings.
Government prosecutors, the Democrat Party and critics of the previous Yingluck administration claimed that the rice program had been largely riddled with corruption allegedly involving senior officials, including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyabhirom, in collusion with rice dealers.