Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled to Dubai, source tells CNN

Aug 26, 2017, 01:19
Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled to Dubai, source tells CNN

If she did appear in Court, she faced a 10 years imprisonment verdict.

Yingluck, who is out on bail, faces up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban in politics for charges that she mismanaged a major rice subsidy program and cost the Thai government billions of dollars. If Yingluck fails to appear in court again on September 27, the court will rule in absentia. As news spread, many said they did not believe she was taking flight.

"What they thought (about) was only the beneficial impact of the program, which is not a surprise because I believe the hidden agenda of the policy was to win a landslide election", he said. Yingluck initiated the rice-pledging scheme, which resulted in purchasing rice from farmers at above-market rates, distorting global prices.

Former Thai minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was jailed on Friday in connection with the same rice subsidy scheme.

"I think it is clear enough that politics is involved in the Yingluck trial", said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. But Yingluck's lawyers told the court she couldn't make it - because of an earache.

Asked if Ms Yingluck was still in the country, Gen Prayut said, "There is no such report..." Even some of her supporters rebelled, arguing that people who killed civilians would end up going free.

Had she been convicted and jailed, she could have been seen as a victim by her supporters.

He added that he'd been "happy" when informed earlier that Yingluck would be at the court for the verdict.

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The verdict threatens to reopen fissures in Thai society that have triggered violent clashes over the past decade between urban royalists and rural backers of exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

Police gathered late Thursday, August 24, around the Supreme Court in northern Bangkok, erecting barriers and CCTV cameras, in anticipation of the largest turnout of Shinawatra supporters since the coup.

The crowds came despite a plea from Yingluck on Facebook to stay away from the court due to security concerns.

"We don't think that the defendant is ill".

She has maintained her innocence and contends that the charges against her are political.

"If she's not guilty she should stay and fight the case", Prayuth said.

"I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up", he said, including local and major routes out of the country.

Ms Yingluck, who was formally impeached in 2015, has been charged with negligence in a case concerning a policy that paid farmers almost twice the market price for rice. Proceedings have lasted more than two years. That official was replaced by the then-national police chief, whose role in turn was given to Priewpan Damapong. Ms Yingluck's billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was prime minister between 2001 and 2006, escaped nine years ago before the conclusion of a graft case.

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