Ousted former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has fled Thailand, sources close to her said on Friday, as the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant after she failed to attend the court for the verdict in a negligence case brought against her by the ruling junta.
“She has definitely left Thailand,” one of the sources, who is also a member of the Shinawatra’s Puea Thai Party, told Reuters.
He declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of Yingluck. Another source confirmed that she had gone.
The sources did not give details of her current whereabouts.
“I have told security authorities to find out if she is really ill and where she is,” Gen Prayut said.
“I also told them to look at legal and illegal border passes. This morning I was happy, thinking Ms Yingluck was brave enough to show up for the ruling,” Gen Prayut said.
Asked if Ms Yingluck was still in the country, Gen Prayut said, “There is no such report… We are looking for her.”
“It was initially good as she said she would hear the ruling. The court trial has been fair. But she did not appear because of illness. She is ill, but we are still unable to find her,” Gen Prayut said.
Asked if he had expected Ms Yingluck to flee, Gen Prayut said, “I never thought so, because she always said that she would defend herself, and people at the Pheu Thai Party said she would be there.”
Gen Prawit said it was likely Ms Yingluck had fled the country. There were many routes she could have used to do so.
There were reports she left through Koh Chang, but they had not been verified, Gen Prawit said. The island is in the eastern province of Trat, bordering Cambodia.
Gen Prawit denied that security authorities intentionally let Ms Yingluck escape. They had followed her and reported she had not left home for two days, Gen Prawit said. Any official who facilitated her escape would be punished.
Gen Prawit said he did not know if Ms Yingluck’s presumed escape had been planned in advance. Photos of her merit-making activities had just been posted on social media.
Immigration police commissioner Natthathorn Prohsunthorn said he had no information of Ms Yingluck’s departure through any legal channel. He did not think Ms Yingluck would use a natural border pass.
Pol Lt Gen Natthathorn said the court had prohibited her leaving the country without permission when allowing her release on bail during the trial.
According to unconfirmed media reports, Ms Yingluck left home on Wednesday night in the vehicle of a high-level government official. She went to Koh Chang and then entered Cambodia, where she boarded a private jet to Singapore.
She would join her elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai, reports said.