Fugitive ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra seeks asylum in UK

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled a court ruling for criminal negligence last month, is allegedly in London and seeking political asylum in the UK, a source from her Pheu Thai Party told CNN yesterday.

Yingluck, 50, made a dramatic disappearance despite being heavily monitored and was a no-show at her Aug. 25 ruling for corruption charges. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court sentenced her to five years in prison, a verdict read in absentia after she fled the kingdom.

Yingluck’s administration was toppled in a 2014 coup and she was later put on trial for negligence over her government’s rice subsidy scheme, which is said to have cost the country billions of dollars.

The ex-prime minister has not made a public appearance since her escape. It took over a month for Thai junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha to confirm yesterday that Yingluck escaped to Dubai, where her brother Thaksin, also a former prime minister, lives in self-imposed exile since he was ousted in 2006 coup.

However, the source from the party told CNN she had left for London two weeks ago.

While Thailand‘s military government denies prior knowledge of Yingluck’s plan to escape, critics said that Yingluck likely cut a deal with the government.

“By getting Yingluck out of Thailand, the military gets rid of a potential thorn in their side who could become a martyr if jailed, or a powerful politician again if she is not,” Paul Chambers, an expert on Thai politics told AFP.

Back in Thailand, police searched Yingluck’s Bangkok home yesterday for clues about how she pulled off the escape.

A Bangkok police officer is under investigation after he publicly admitted to driving Yingluck to Sa Keao, a province that borders Cambodia, where she is believed to have taken a flight to Singapore and then to Dubai.

 

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