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Trial begins for Thailand's former prime minister

Testimony has begun for Yingluck Shinawatra, the ex-prime minister of Thailand, who stands accused of mismanagement. Supporters of the former leader have accused the government of trying to silence the opposition.

The trial began on Friday for Shinawatra, who was temporarily banned from politics last year after a court affiliated with the military government found her guilty of mismanaging a rice subsidy program.

Among the charges levelled against Shinawatra in her trial are failure to stop corruption and dereliction of duty, all linked to the subsidy plan.

That plan, meant to increase global prices for rice in an effort to boost Thailand's economy, ultimately led to prices for Thai rice declining.

Old foes

Shinawatra was ousted following a military coup in March 2014 and banned from entering politics for five years. She's also currently barred from leaving the country.

Watch video 02:32

Going up against Thai military government

Supporters of Shinawatra say the military government is using the charges to silence both her and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was also prime minister of Thailand at one point. Thaksin was removed following a military coup in 2006, but maintains a strong influence on Thai politics, even though he currently lives in exile.

There is a major divide in Thailand between the city elites, many of whom are supportive of the military-backed monarchy, and the people living in the country, who mostly support Yingluck and her brother.

blc/ (AP, AFP)

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