Thai Supreme Court issues arrest warrant for former Prime Minister

Judgement day looms for Shinawatra clan

Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha denied knowledge of her whereabouts but ordered border checkpoints "to be stepped up", while his number-two Prawit Wongsuwon said it was "possible" Yingluck had fled through neighboring Cambodia. The judge said Yingluck failed to provide a medical certificate, leading the judges to believe she meant to flee the trial.

Yingluck s premiership was scuttled in 2014 by a court ruling over a technicality.

"I want those who wish to support me to listen to the news from home, to avoid risking any unexpected problems that could arise from those who have ill-intentions toward the country and all of us", she wrote, without naming anyone. He said a warrant would be issued for her arrest, and announced the hearing would be postponed until September 27.

Thousands of supporters - outnumbered by security forces - waited from dawn for a glimpse of the ousted leader, but she did not show.

Fearing potential unrest, authorities tried to deter people from turning out Friday by threatening legal action against anyone planning to help transport Yingluck supporters.

At the time, Yingluck said she had behaved with integrity and honesty during her time as prime minister.

In her final statement made in her defense in court, Yingluck maintained that she had never neglected her duty involving the rice subsidy program carried out by her government.

Yingluck failed to appear for the verdict on negligence charges linked to a rice subsidy program that cost the state billions of dollars. In response, some 4,000 police were deployed around the area.

On Thursday, Yingluck asked her supporters (via Facebook; she has six million followers) to stay away from the court.

"What?" said a 75-year-0ld woman when told the court considered Yingluck to be a fugitive. Yingluck also posted a message on her Facebook page urging followers to stay away, saying she anxious about their safety. "She's a working woman and a strong woman".

He remains loathed by the Bangkok royalist elite but cherished by the rural poor. A fine or a suspended jail sentence, or a combination of the two, had seemed the most likely outcome of Ms Yingluck's trial.

"She has definitely left Thailand", one of the sources, who is also a member of Shinawatra's Puea Thai Party, told Reuters.

It has fuelled speculation she has joined her brother, fellow former premier and ex-Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra, in self-exile.

But 3 years of repressive junta rule has successfully quashed any widespread opposition to the military for now.

Yingluck's Pheu Thai derived its popularity from the populist policies launched by Thaksin in 2001 with his previous political vehicle, the Thai Rak Thai party.

Losses amounted to more than £6 billion, according to the government.

Three years after the military coup, justified as a necessary stabilisation move to end deadly protests and political deadlock, the trial of Yingluck rehashes old grievances and threatens to unsettle the relative (albeit enforced) calm. "It is hard to track her", he said.

Overthrown in 2014, Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

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