Senior members of Yingluck’s party said today, a day after she failed to show up for a negligence ruling in which she faced up to 10 years in jail, that she has fled to Dubai.
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has allegedly fled to Dubai where her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for corruption, has a home.
This concurs with revelations by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon that there were reports Yingluck left Thailand.
Reports said she left the country through Koh Chang, an island in the eastern province of Trat which borders Cambodia. She allegedly went to Cambodia and boarded a private jet to Singapore from where she flew to Dubai.
Prawit denied rumours that security authorities intentionally let Yingluck escape. They had followed her and reported she had not left home for two days, he said, adding that any official who facilitated her escape would be punished.
But according to unconfirmed media reports, Yingluck left home on Wednesday night and went to Koh Chang in the vehicle of a high-level government official.
Immigration police commissioner Natthathorn Prohsunthorn said he had no information of Yingluck’s departure through any legal channel. He did not think she would use a natural border pass.
He added that the court had prohibited her leaving the country without permission when allowing her release on bail during the trial.
Yingluck failed to show up at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in Bangkok on Friday for the ruling in her trial for alleged dereliction of duty in overseeing her government’s loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme.
Under the rice subsidy programme, her administration paid farmers up to 50 percent more than market prices for their rice. The policy was popular with farmers but left the country with huge rice stockpiles and caused $8 billion in losses.
Yingluck, 50, is liable to a maximum prison term of 10 years if convicted.
The court has issued a bench warrant for her arrest and seized her 30 million baht bail bond.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha led the 2014 coup against Yingluck’s government in the name of ending political turmoil.
Asked if he had expected Yingluck to flee, Prayut said, “I never thought so, because she always said that she would defend herself, and people at the Pheu Thai Party said she would be there.”
“This morning I was happy, thinking Ms Yingluck was brave enough to show up for the ruling.
“It was initially good as she said she would hear the ruling. The court trial has been fair,” Prayut said yesterday.
An estimated 3,000 of Yingluck supporters gathered outside the court on Friday where around 4,000 police officers were deployed and checkpoints set up.
Disappointment aside, her supporters felt that with her fleeing the country an injustice remained while her opponents would feel vindicated.
Earlier report: Aug 25, Yingluck’s Lawyer Says Does Not Know If She Is Still in Thailand