Asia Pacific / Politics

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's former leader, has fled to Dubai: senior party members

Reuters

Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has fled to Dubai, senior members of her party said Saturday, a day after she failed to show up for a negligence ruling in which she faced up to 10 years in prison.

Sources in her Puea Thai party said the former prime minister left Thailand last week and flew via Singapore to Dubai where her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, also a former prime minister, lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for corruption, has a home.

“We heard that she went to Cambodia and then Singapore from where she flew to Dubai. She has arrived safely and is there now,” said a senior member of Puea Thai, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Thailand’s deputy national police chief, Gen. Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul, said police have no records of Yingluck leaving the country and are following developments closely.

A Reuters reporter was stopped by security at the exclusive Emirates Hills community in Dubai, where Thaksin has a home.

A spokesperson for Thaksin in Dubai did not respond to attempts to contact Thaksin.

Police estimate that up to 3,000 supporters gathered outside the court in Bangkok on Friday where Yingluck was due to hear a verdict in a negligence trial against her involving a rice-buying policy of her administration.

But Yingluck did not show up at the appointed hour and the court quickly issued a statement saying she had cited an ear problem as the reason for her no-show.

The court rejected the excuse and moved the verdict reading to Sept. 27. It later issued an arrest warrant for Yingluck.

Immigration police said they will arrest Yingluck on the spot if she is found.

Sources close to the Shinawatra family on Friday said Yingluck had fled the country ahead of the verdict.

Overthrown in 2014, Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. In a related case, her former commerce minister was jailed for 42 years on Friday.

Political parties led or backed by the Shinawatras have dominated Thai politics, winning every general election since 2001.

But the Shinawatras have been accused of corruption and nepotism by the Bangkok-based establishment who loath Thaksin.

The family commands huge support in the poorer, rural north and northeast.

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