Ex Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra to face trial over rice scheme scandal

Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra meets her supporters at the Defence Permanent Secretary Office on May 7, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Story highlights

  • Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been ordered to stand trial
  • The first court hearing will take place on May 19
  • Case centers on her role in controversial rice subsidy scheme

(CNN)Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been ordered to stand trial over her role in a controversial rice subsidy scheme that cost the country billions.

The first court hearing will take place on May 19, a statement from Thailand's supreme court said.
    "This case falls under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions ... and the charges brought [against Yingluck] are accepted," the statement said.
    If found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
    On her Facebook page, Yingluck said she behaved with integrity and honesty during her time as prime minister.
    "I pledge that I have followed correct proceedings of the constitution, laws of the country in every way."

    Critics

    The rice subsidy program, introduced in 2011, pledged to pay farmers well above the market rate for their crop.
    But critics said it wasted large amounts of public funds trying to please rural voters, hurting exports and leaving the government with large stockpiles of rice it couldn't sell without losing money.
    Anger over the scheme played a role in the protests that led to the downfall of Yingluck's government and a military coup in May last year.
    In January, Thailand's military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted in favor of impeaching Yingluck for her role in the rice program.
    Though the vote was largely symbolic, as she had already lost her post, it carries a five-year ban from politics.