A Thai court has found Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of abuse of power charges, which she had denied. The ruling means she will be removed from office along with nine members of her Cabinet.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday morning that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was guilty of abuse of power charges.
The guilty verdict means Yingluck will be removed from office and banned from politics. The court also removed nine members of her caretaker Cabinet from office, finding them complicit in Yingluck’s decision.
The court found the transfer was carried out with a “hidden agenda” to benefit Yingluck’s powerful family. It is not clear who would become Thailand’s new acting caretaker prime minister.
Yingluck had appeared at the court on Tuesday to deny allegations that she replaced the national security chief in 2011 for the benefit of her Pheu Thai Party. “I would like to deny all allegations I am accused of,” Yingluck said on Tuesday.
“I didn’t violate any laws, I didn’t receive any benefit from the appointment,” she added.
Yingluck has faced mass anti-government protests since last year over other corruption allegations, including the failure to stop the billions in losses incurred from a failed rice subsidy scheme. Her critics accuse her of being a puppet for her brother, the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin lives overseas to avoid jail for corruption convictions, but is accused of running the country through his sister. He was removed in a 2006 military coup.
The political upheaval over the past six months has left at least 25 dead. The prospect of removing Yingluck from office has raised fears of more street protests in Bangkok, in a possible repeat of violent clashes between her supporters, anti-government protesters and security forces.
Thailand currently only has a caretaker government. In February, the Constituional Court nullified the results of snap elections because protesters had disrupted the polls.
jr/kms (AP, AFP)