Ex-Thai PM sentenced in rice scheme Agencies

Thailand's Supreme Court imposed a five-year prison sentence on former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, almost one month after she became a fugitive and the court issued an arrest warrant over charges of criminal negligence.

The court announced the ruling in Yingluck's absentia after she failed to show up to the original sentencing last month.

"The court found that the defendant is guilty as charged. the court has sentenced her to 5 years in prison and the court also unanimously agreed that the sentence will not be suspended", a judge said.

Yingluck, who inherited the leadership of Thaksin's political machine and was elected prime minister in 2011, became a proxy target for his enemies as well.

Current Prime Minister of Thailand Prayuth Chan-o-cha told reporters that he knows where Shinawatra is but will not reveal her whereabouts until after the verdict is published.

Yingluck, as head of the National Rice Committee, had established regulations and preventative methods at the programme's outset, the court found.

The Shinawatras had commanded huge support by courting rural voters, helping them to win every general election since 2001, but their foes accused them of corruption and nepotism.

Authorities said that this caused the country 8 billion dollars in financial losses.

That was far fewer than on Aug 25, when the court was originally scheduled to deliver its verdict, only to find out that Yingluck had fled the country. There lives her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who also headed the government of Thailand, and then fled overseas because of allegations of abuse of power. The military seized power.