Thailand: Arrest warrant issued for former PM Yingluck after no-show in court

Judges to decide ex-PM Yingluck's fate tomorrow

After Shinawatra did not show up in court on Friday, Thailand's Supreme Court postponed the planned verdict on her ill-fated 2011 rice subsidy scheme and issued a warrant for her arrest.

Sources close to Yingluck, who was ousted by a military coup in 2014, said on Friday that the former prime minister had fled Thailand.

The criminal charge laid against her was over her government's ill-conceived rice subsidy scheme which lost between $8 and $20 billion in public funds, but helped poor rice farmers who are the Shinawatras' political base. If found guilty, she may be jailed for up to 10 years and receive a lifetime ban from politics.

The Supreme Court postponed the reading of the verdict for the criminal case against Yingluck until September 27 after her lawyer said the former leader was suffering from Meniere's disease and feeling dizzy and thus was unable to attend. Hundreds of her supporters have turned up outside the Supreme Court in Bangkok ahead of the verdict, amid a heavy police presence.

"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.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan also said it was possible Shinawatra had already fled the country, reported BBC.

"All my life I've never sold rice at such a good price as when she was prime minister", she said.

"I pledge that I have followed correct proceedings of the constitution, laws of the country in every way", she said on social media.

A military junta seized power in May that year and general Prayut Chan-o-cha has since been anointed as head of the government. Yingluck was also criticized for buying loyalty from her supporters through populism during her premiership without seriously addressing critical hurdles in democratization.

Thousands of supporters - outnumbered by security forces - waited from dawn for a glimpse of the ousted leader, but she did not show.

The new government has gone on to offer its own rice subsidy scheme.

If her flight is confirmed, Yingluck will have joined her billionaire brother Thaksin in self-exile-a knock-out blow to the family and their political ambitions.

Yingluck has been barred from leaving the country without court approval since 2015, when her trial started.

TRT World's Shamim Chowdhury has more. The ruling barred her from political office for five years. He said security officials monitoring Yingluck had not seen her leave her Bangkok home in the last two days.

Her weakness was her elder brother Thaksin, whose deep networks hoisted her to power despite his long absence from Thailand.

Thaksin, who has lived in Dubai since fleeing a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated, has studiously avoided commenting on his sister's case, apparently to avoid imperiling it.

Ms Yingluck failed to appear at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Friday for the verdict on charges of negligence. Yingluck also posted a message on her Facebook page urging followers to stay away, saying she anxious about their safety.

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