Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning, the Thai Attorney General officially indicted the former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra; if found guilty she could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
The first woman to head a government in the country, Yingluck - sister of former prime minister and billionaire Thaksin, who is in exile to escape a two-year sentence for corruption - is accused of "negligence" for her role in rice subsidy scheme.
According to prosecutors the controversial program, aimed at buying votes, cost billions of dollars from state coffers. The former Prime Minister strongly rejected all accusations.
Court will have to decide by March 19 whether to try the woman, who was deposed
from office in May following a military coup. It was a show of strength by the
army, which put an end to months of street protests movements close to the
establishment and urban elite: they had been calling for the resignation of an
executive deemed "incompetent and populist."
The prosecutor has filed more than 20 boxes containing documents related to the court case; the new charges represent the latest stage in a decades-long struggle between the Thaksin clan and the military establishment, loyal to the monarchy.
Analysts and Thai political experts emphasize that this decision could fuel even more divisions and fractures in a country long plagued by a serious political crisis. The biggest fear is a return to the street protests which have often resulted in violence and urban warfare, with dozens of deaths and injuries.
Yingluck supporters, the "red shirts", speak of a carefully prepared plan to remove the Shinawatra family and party from political - and economic - life of Thailand.
Thailand's crisis began in 2005, as major clashes broke out between "red shirted" pro-Shinawatra protesters, drawn especially from the countryside and among the poor, and the "yellow shirted" supporters of the Democrat Party, which represents Thailand's upper and middle classes, as well as the capital's elite, led in parliament by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
In the spring of 2010, confrontations between protesters and police degenerated, leaving about a hundred people dead. This was followed by a political process and new elections that saw the temporary return to power of the Shinawatra family.
Still things remained deadlocked and last May, the military intervened to stop street protests that had left at least 27 dead, ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, who had won the previous election by a wide margin.
Although nothing is known about the nature of future political reforms, the country remains in the hands of the military with, as prime minister, the head of the Armed Forces who is tasked with reforming the state, a situation that could easily move the country towards further authoritarian rule.
The current prime minister was in fact responsible for the bloody crackdown in 2010. Since then, and this despite the many dead, no member of the armed forces was ever held accountable for it.