Thailand's former PM Yingluck has fled overseas, say sources

by Antonio Miles August 26, 2017, 1:15
Thailand's former PM Yingluck has fled overseas, say sources

The Supreme Court of Thailand on Friday issued an arrest warrant against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after she failed to appear in court for the verdict in a negligence case, reported Reuters.

Yingluck Shinawatra was Prime Minister of Thailand from August 2011 to May 2014, when she was removed from office amid an abuse of power scandal.

Some Thai media earlier reported that a auto believed to carry Yingluck was seen at the court as her followers were chanting her name to the vehicle and thus assumed she was there, but she did not show up as expected.

Sources close to her party say she made the decision to leave unexpectedly, shortly before the verdict was due in Bangkok. Judges also postponed the verdict til September 27.

Ms Yingluck posted $900,000 (£703,000) bail at the beginning of her trial.

Yingluck's failure to appear in court prompted the Supreme Court to hand out the arrest warrant for the former premier now faced with duty-negligence charges pertaining to the rice subsidy program implemented nationwide years ago.

Historically the Shinawatras have been able to mass huge crowds of supporters - known as the "Red Shirts" - to take to the streets when the family's political fortunes have waned. They had been expecting the verdict to be announced in a case against Ms Yingluck for incompetence in a rice-subsidy scheme which cost the government around $16bn.

The junta that seized control of Thailand has since suppressed dissent and banned political gatherings of more than five people.

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Ms Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who is also a former premier, fled Thailand in 2008 before he was convicted of graft and handed a two-year jail term.

"If you ask any farmer if they like Yingluck, they all like Yingluck because she was willing to help us", she said, pausing from harvesting her field in Chachoengsao province outside Bangkok. She may be really ill.

He remains loathed by the Bangkok royalist elite but cherished by the rural poor. But she earned some political credit while serving as prime minister and became even more popular after she was toppled in the 2014 coup.

Mr Shinawatra founded and bankrolled the Pheu Thai party, which has won every Thai election since 2001.

Thousands of Ms Shinawatra's supporters, observed by police, gathered outside the court on Friday.

Telecommunications billionaire Mr Thaksin, who once owned Manchester City FC, has lived in self-imposed exile since leaving Thailand. Thaksin has remained overseas ever since, alternating between residences in at least London, Dubai and Hong Kong. "Now the people have to fight for themselves".

Yingluck has steadfastly protested her innocence and urged the court to show leniency, denying charges of negligence of duty for failing to prevent corruption in the rice-pledging scheme, her government's flagship policy that resulted in losses of some 500 billion baht (about $15 billion) for the country.

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