Yingluck Shinawatra

‘I am not crazy’: Thai PM denies paving way for former leader Yingluck to flee before verdict

Prayut said he did not allow Yingluck to escape to avoid any political tension that may have arisen in the event she was sentenced to prison.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 August, 2017, 6:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 August, 2017, 6:36pm

Thai premier Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday denied media reports his government helped former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra flee the country before the verdict in her trial over a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

Prayut said he did not allow Yingluck to escape to avoid any political tension that may have arisen in the event she was sentenced to prison.

“I am not crazy to do that. Please have confidence in me,” Prayut said in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand, where he attended a military function. The Thai junta leader also said they are looking for Yingluck.

Thailand’s Shinawatra era is over, but questions remain about junta’s role in aiding Yingluck’s flight from the law

Yingluck, 50, failed to appear for the verdict on Friday morning, prompting the Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant. The court has set a new sentencing date for September 27. She faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said separately he had no idea that Yingluck fled and the move was unexpected because the former leader had insisted she would appear in court on Friday.

He stressed that authorities closely monitored Yingluck’s whereabouts, but it was unclear how she was able to escape.

Sources in her Pheu Thai Party said Yingluck fled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The date of her departure remains unclear.

Former leader Yingluck has fled Thailand after skipping court hearing, says party source

Yingluck is the younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and fled abroad to avoid a corruption conviction. He still lives in exile, using Dubai as a base, leading to speculation Yingluck has joined him there.

During the trial, she denied charges of criminal negligence in connection with her government’s rice subsidy scheme, which resulted in losses of about 500 billion baht (US$15 billion) for the country.

The government confirmed last month it had temporarily frozen her assets.

Yingluck was ousted from office by the Constitutional Court over an abuse-of-power case, just days ahead of the military coup led by Prayut, then head of the army, in May 2014 that overthrew the Pheu Thai-led government.