Ex-Thailand PM Yingluck Shinawatra 'fled country' ahead of court verdict

Judgement day looms for Shinawatra clan
Judges to decide ex-PM Yingluck's fate tomorrow
Author

26 August, 2017

The court has issued a warrant for Yingluck's arrest, despite her lawyer's claim that she was absent due to illness, and has set a new date of September 27 for its verdict, media reports said.

A second source also said she had gone, without giving details of her current whereabouts.

Her lawyers told the court at 09:37 local time that Yingluck is presently unwell and could not attend the hearing.

Thailand's Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday after she failed to appear for the verdict in her trial over alleged negligence in implementing a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

If the court rules not guilty, "the generals will have egg on their face", said Paul Chambers, a political scientist at Naresuan University in northern Thailand. But the court did not believe the claim as it was not backed by a medical certificate.

"I think there's 50 percent chance that she will flee and there's 50 percent chance that she might come to fight", said Vittawat Suwanpuk, 70, a retired banker who came out to support her.

Some analysts said that in the short term Yingluck's disappearance has reduced political risk. "We are looking for her".

Though popular with her rural voter base, opponents said the scheme was too expensive and open to corruption.

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Yet according to Schaffar, "There is no such thing as a fair trial in Thailand. I think she will definitely not flee", Boon Poomsida from Yasothorn province said.

Sources in her party say she made the decision to leave unexpectedly, shortly before she was due to appear at the Supreme Court on negligence charges.

He said he had no idea whether she was still in the country or had already left. Acquitting her, though, would have been equally unacceptable to her hard-line opponents, many of them very influential.

Yingluck's no-show on Friday has led many to again speculate that she may also flee overseas. They had followed her and reported she had not left home for two days, Gen Prawit said.

She was tried under Article 157 of the Penal Code, which addresses official malfeasance, for failing to take action to prevent corruption and losses.

Before politics, Yingluck was managing director of telco firm AIS founded by Thaksin, and also of SC Asset Company, a Shinawatra family firm involved in property. "I pledge that I have followed correct proceedings of the constitution, laws of the country in every way", she wrote in social media post. Critics say they were effectively a means of vote buying, while Yingluck supporters welcomed them and argue the case against her is politically motivated. She went to Koh Chang and then entered Cambodia, where she boarded a private jet to Singapore. Yingluck became Thailand's first female prime minister after a 2011 election, the last one held in the country.

His unexpectedly harsh 42-year prison sentence was touted as a possible reason for Ms Yingluck's apparent disappearance.


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