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Thai SC issues arrest warrant against ex-PM

26 August 2017

Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra missed a court appearance in a negligence trial on Friday that could have seen her jailed, prompting the Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant and the kingdom's junta to step up border controls.

He said the court would seek permission for an arrest warrant for the former prime minister, adding that verdict has been rescheduled to September 27.

Yingluck is charged with dereliction of duty in her government's rice pledging scheme, which was alleged to have dealt a damage of over 500 billion baht (14.9 billion United States dollars), and could possibly be sentenced to ten years' imprisonment if found guilty.

"With two family members as fugitives, the family loses political legitimacy", she said, adding that Ms Yingluck's departure would be welcomed by a Thai junta tired of the prospect of her political martyrdom in jail. Sources close to her say Shinawatra has fled the country.

Propelled to power in July 2011 by her family's electoral base in the poor north and northeast, Yingluck was pilloried by foes as a political lightweight armed with little more than a winning smile and a hotline to her elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra - who once referred to her as his "clone".

Overthrown in 2014, Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Ms Yingluck's lawyer had requested a delay in the ruling, telling the Supreme Court that she had vertigo and a severe headache and was unable to attend.

A senior source in the Shinawatras Pheu Thai party told Agence France-Presse that "as of now she is likely in Singapore... it's impossible she left without the military greenlight".

Shinawatra also posted a message on her Facebook page urging followers to stay away, saying she anxious about their safety.

"I believe she is still in Thailand".

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Andrew Locke, another salon employee, said the situation was "nerve-wracking", especially in trying to take care of customers. Mayor John Tecklenburg emphasized to reporters during a news conference that: "This is not act of terrorism".

"Such behaviour convincingly shows that she is a flight risk". Prayuth said in a speech Thursday that the country would return to a democratic path soon.

The court also ordered the seizure of her 30 million baht ($900,360) bail bond.

Forced out of office by a military coup in May of 2014, she was formally impeached in January of 2015.

Thousands of people turned up outside the Bangkok court house anyway, though, along with thousands of police who erected barricades around the court.

In a separate administrative ruling that froze her bank accounts, Yingluck was held responsible for about $1 billion of those losses - an astounding personal penalty that prosecutors argued Yingluck deserved because she ignored warnings of corruption but continued the program anyway.

It was aimed at boosting farmers' incomes and alleviating rural poverty, and saw the government paying farmers almost twice the market rate for their crop.

Yingluck has said she was only in charge of coming up with the policy but not the day-to-day management of it.

"But she might not have understood what was going to happen to her. that she would become the victim of a political game".

The case is the latest chapter in a decade-long struggle by the nation's elite minority to crush the powerful political machine founded by Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in another coup in 2006. "Now the people have to fight for themselves".

He is believed to use a Montenegrin passport to travel between homes in Dubai, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Thai SC issues arrest warrant against ex-PM