LONDON – Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in Dubai but left for London on September 11, a source in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Thursday.
The source spoke after the leader of Thailand’s military junta said that Shinawatra, the prime minister he ousted three years ago, was in Dubai, having fled there last month to avoid being jailed over a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of dollars.
Earlier on Thursday, the junta leader said Yingluck was in Dubai, a day after she was handed a five-year jail term in absentia for negligence, AFP adds from Bangkok.
Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s first clear comments on Yingluck’s whereabouts came a month after she ghosted out off Thailand, ducking a court ruling over charges she failed to stop graft and losses in a costly rice subsidy policy by her government.
On Wednesday Thailand’s top court sentenced her in absentia to five years’ jail, pulling the plug on her political career.
She maintained her innocence throughout the case, which she said was a political fit-up sculpted by her family’s enemies among the arch-royalist army and elite.
“I learned from the foreign ministry that now she is in Dubai,” said Prayut, who toppled Yingluck’s government from office in a 2014 coup.
Once a fresh arrest warrant is issued, Thai authorities may proceed with extradition efforts, he told reporters.
Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin, also a former premier, has a home in Dubai.
The 2001 rise of Thaksin, a billionaire former cop with a magic touch at the polls, rattled Thailand’s establishment and the country has since see-sawed between elected governments and coups.
He fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid jail on a graft conviction he says was politically motivated.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, a key architect of the coup that took down Yingluck’s government, said “it’s good she is in Dubai.”
“Although don’t have extradition treaty… Dubai officials informed our foreign ministry that they will not allow Yingluck to make any political move.”
The 50-year-old, who still has the right to appeal, has not appeared in public since pulling the vanishing act on August 25, her initial ruling date.
The Shinawatra siblings lie at the centre of a political battle that has chewed at Thailand for more than a decade.
Shinawatra-backed parties have dominated electoral politics since 2001, enraging Bangkok’s military-allied elite.
The ruling junta has promised to hold an election in 2018, though changes to the constitution have ensured the military holds on to some role governing the country.
Thai police on Thursday raided Yingluck’s home in eastern Bangkok, armed with a search warrant.
Around a dozen police from the forensics unit entered the large compound carrying gloves and metal boxes, to be met by a lawyer for Yingluck and one of her bodyguards.