Thai court to issue arrest warrant after ex-PM doesn't show

Thai court to issue arrest warrant after ex-PM doesn't show

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra failed to show up at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in Bangkok on Friday for the ruling in her trial for alleged dereliction of duty in overseeing her government's loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme.

"With two family members as fugitives, the family loses political legitimacy", she said, adding that Yingluck's departure would be welcomed by a Thai junta tired of the prospect of her political martyrdom in jail.

Thailand's Supreme Court said it will issue an arrest warrant for the former prime minister after her no show.

"Even when Thaksin fled the country, his supporters stayed with him", said Yasuhito Asami, a professor at Hosei University in Japan, noting that Thaksin's parties have won every election since 2001.

He added that he did not know if Ms Shinawatra was still in Thailand. Yingluck also posted a message on her Facebook page urging followers to stay away, saying she anxious about their safety. The scheme, introduced in 2011, pledged to pay farmers well above the market rate for their crop and ended up costing the country billions.

A verdict had been expected to be delivered within hours in the case, which the court postponed until September 27.

Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra also a former premier, fled Thailand in 2008 before he was convicted of graft and handed a two year jail term.

But when she failed to appear, the court issued an arrest warrant for her and confiscated her bail.

She allegedly escaped on August 23 with her 15-year-old son over Singapore and flew from there directly to Dubai, CNN said.

The ruling barred her from political office for five years.

But the court said in a statement it did not believe she was sick as there was no medical certificate and that the claimed sickness was not severe enough to prevent her travelling to court.

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The current government, which is still trying to sell off the rice stockpiles, says Yingluck's administration lost as much as $17 billion because it couldn't export at a price commensurate with what it had paid farmers.

During her trial, Ms Yingluck had argued she was not responsible for the day-to-day running of the scheme.

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

In another development on Friday, former Thai minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was jailed for 42 years in connection with the rice subsidy scheme.

How popular is Yingluck Shinawatra?

Her brother, Taksin, had also been ousted from power by the military in 2006.

He remains loathed by the Bangkok royalist elite but cherished by the rural poor.

Yingluck last commented on social media on Thursday, saying on her Facebook page that she would not be able to meet supporters at court because of tight security.

"The Thai prime minister has done her best, she has sacrificed a lot", said Seksan Chalitaporn, 64.

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.

In a day of high drama, Yingluck ducked her court hearing for negligence over a flagship rice subsidy policy, which carried up to 10 years in prison and a life ban from politics. "Now the people have to fight for themselves".

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