Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra ‘spotted’ shopping in London mall
Some say the blurry image is of the fugitive former leader
A grainy photo that has gone viral on social media shows fugitive former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra shopping in London, according to Thailand’s NewTV, which first ran the image.
If it is Yingluck, then it would be the first sighting of the former leader since she fled Thailand in August right before the verdict hearing in her corruption trial.
According to the Bangkok Post, the photo was enough to prompt the Thai government to investigate.
There have been reports over the past few months that Yingluck has been trying to seek asylum in Britain.
The photo is said to have been taken on Tuesday at Westfield shopping centre in West London.
The woman in the photo appears to be alone, with no bodyguards visible.
The Bangkok Post quoted a source close to the former leader as saying it probably was Yingluck, who they insisted was now trying to lead a “normal” life but trying to avoid places where she would bump into Thais.
“She doesn’t go out wearing a disguise but she sometimes wears sunglasses,” the newspaper quoted the source as saying.
Despite the excitement the image has caused, Thai police played down the sighting claim.
Xinhua quoted national deputy police chief Sivara Rangsipromnakul as saying Interpol would not say whether Yingluck was in Britain and police in Bangkok were still trying to find out when and where the photo was taken.
Yingluck, 50, was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia in September for failing to stop graft in the government’s rice-buying scheme. Her exact whereabouts are unknown, though sources have said that after fleeing to Cambodia she flew via Singapore to Dubai. Her once active social media accounts have also fallen silent.
Thailand’s National Security Council, which is investigating the photo claim, said it has not been able to find her.
Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, another deposed former Thai prime minister who has been living in exile to avoid being jailed for corruption, was recently seen in Japan.
Bangkok Post, Agence France-Presse, Xinhua