A CRIMINAL court in Thailand has issued a second arrest warrant for the country’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is thought to be in the United Kingdom after fleeing prior to a negligence trial.
The warrant, issued on Wednesday, was for violating the immigration law, deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters.
Yingluck fled abroad in August fearing that the military government, set up after a coup in 2014, would seek a harsh sentence. Sources within her Pheu Thai Party have said she is in London, where she has been granted political asylum. It remains unclear how she left the country.
The Thai Attorney-General’s office is developing a working group to extradite Yingluck from the UK, reported The Nation on Friday.
Last week, the Supreme Court convicted and sentenced her to five years in jail for mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme that cost the country billions of dollars.
Throughout her trial, Yingluck said she was innocent and not responsible for the day-to-day running of the scheme, arguing that she was a victim of political persecution.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the 2014 coup against Yingluck’s government, recently said Thailand would pursue her through diplomatic channels and police cooperation, using Interpol.
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon was in London several weeks ago and said he was unaware that Yingluck was in the UK. “Had I really met her there, it would have been impossible to cover it up. No way,” he said, as quoted by the Bangkok Post.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks told reporters on Thursday the ministry was working on revoking Yingluck’s Thai passport.
She said the ministry had no information on whether Yingluck was seeking political asylum.
Last week, Thai police raided Yingluck’s home in eastern Bangkok, armed with a search warrant.
The military government said last week she was in Dubai. But a source in the United Arab Emirates said Yingluck left Dubai for London on Sep 11, without giving details.
Additional reporting from Reuters.