Former Thai PM Flees Ahead of Verdict

Former Thai PM Flees Ahead of Verdict

Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled abroad, sources say, ahead of a verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme.
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, the BBC reported.
Her lawyers told the court she had been unable to attend because she was ill.
But when she failed to appear, the court issued an arrest warrant for her and confiscated her bail.
Judges also postponed the verdict until 27 September.
Yingluck has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost Thailand billions of dollars. If found guilty at the end of her two-year trial, she could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.
Sources within Yingluck’s Puea Thai Party told Reuters that she had “definitely left Thailand” but did not give details of her whereabouts.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads Thailand’s military government, said all routes out of the country were being closely monitored.
“I just learned that she did not show up [at court],” he told reporters. “I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up.”
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan initially said he had no information on Yingluck’s whereabouts but as he left a meeting in Bangkok he said: “It is possible that she has fled already.”
Yingluck Shinawatra was the most high-profile criminal defendant in Thailand and was constantly monitored by the military authorities. Immigration authorities say they have no record of her leaving the country.
However, it is a poorly-concealed secret that some in the military government would have been happy to see her leave the country before the verdict.

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