Thailand issues arrest warrant for Yingluck Shinawatra

Aug 26, 2017, 01:16
Thailand issues arrest warrant for Yingluck Shinawatra

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra became a fugitive of the law Friday when she failed to appear to hear the verdict in her malfeasance trial.

Thai police check a bag of a woman who supports former Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra outside the Supreme Court where the court is expected to announce verdict on Yingluck in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.

Prosecutors in the criminal negligence trial argued that Yingluck ignored warnings of corruption in the subsidy program.

Poonsak Udanon, a farmer from Nakhon Phanom in the northeast said he was "sad and worried" about the embattled former prime minister.

"Her lawyer says that she is sick and request to postpone the verdict..."

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan initially said he had no information on Ms Yingluck's whereabouts but as he left a meeting in Bangkok he said: "It is possible that she has fled already". However, her opposition will probably see this as a continuation of a tradition for the Shinawatra family to flee from prosecution at home, he added.

She has pleaded innocent to the charges, saying she is the victim of a "subtle political game". Like him, she pursued populist policies, such as the rice scheme, which pleased their largely rural supporters known as "red shirts" and angered royalist rivals, or "yellow shirts". "I think she will definitely not flee", Boon Poomsida from Yasothorn province said.

Last month, Yingluck herself openly acknowledged her need for public support, writing on her Facebook page, "I would like to transform your moral support into a power that would make me strong and tolerant".

In 2015, the army-appointed legislature launched a legal case against her, accusing her of mishandling the rice subsidy program.

A military junta seized power in May that year and general Prayut Chan-o-cha has since been anointed as head of the government. But Yingluck and her aides have insisted she respects the justice system and would contest her charge to the end.

Aside from the court case, the military government has also ordered Yingluck to pay 35 billion baht in compensation to the state to cover the losses from the scheme, under which critics say farmers were paid an inflated price for their rice.

Damapong is the brother of the ex-wife of Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother, who was overthrown as Prime Minister in a military coup in 2006. "She won't give up easily", supporter Vittawat Suwanpuk told the Times.

"If you ask any farmer if they like Yingluck, they all like Yingluck because she was willing to help us", she said, pausing from harvesting her field in Chachoengsao province outside Bangkok.

Thousands of supporters had massed outside the country's Supreme Court on Friday morning to witness the outcome of the trial.

Mr Shinawatra is believed to use a Montenegrin passport, after his Thai document was revoked, to travel between homes in Dubai, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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