Thai Ex-Pm Flees Country Ahead Of Court Verdict
Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled the country ahead of a verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme, according to multiple reports.
Sources in her party say she made the decision to leave unexpectedly, shortly before she was due to appear at the Supreme Court on negligence charges.
Her lawyers told the court she had been unable to attend because she was ill. But when she failed to appear, the court issued an arrest warrant for her and confiscated her bail.
Judges also postponed the verdict until 27 September.
Ms Yingluck has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost Thailand billions of dollars. If found guilty at the end of her two-year trial, she could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.
Sources within Ms Yingluck's Puea Thai Party told Reuters that she had "definitely left Thailand" but did not give details of her whereabouts.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads Thailand's military government, said all routes out of the country were being closely monitored.
"I just learned that she did not show up [at court]," he told reporters. "I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up."
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."
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