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Homechevron_rightWorldchevron_rightEx-PM Shinawatra...

Ex-PM Shinawatra 'flees Thailand' ahead of trial verdict

Ex-PM Shinawatra flees Thailand ahead of trial verdict

Bangkok: Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra has fled abroad as the country's Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant after she failed to appear on Friday for the verdict in a negligence case brought against her by the ruling junta, a media report said.

A BBC report quoted sources close to her party as saying she made the decision to leave unexpectedly.

The top court issued the arrest warrant against Yingluck after she did not appear for the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme.

As thousands of supporters gathered near the court in Laksi district, the judges rejected her explanation she had Meniere's disease and was suffering from vertigo, after her lawyer failed to present a medical certificate, reported The Bangkok Post.

The court also ordered the seizure of her 30 million baht ($900,360) bail bond. On Thursday, Yingluck told her supporters via Facebook to stay at home on Friday and not go to the court.

Reports said she was last seen in Bangkok on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was set to announce its ruling on Yingluck, who faces trial for dereliction of duty in failing to halt her government's loss-ridden,corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme, despite being warned repeatedly to do so.

The scheme, introduced in 2011, pledged to pay farmers well above the market rate for their crop, and ended up costing the country billions.

Yingluck said the rice subsidy scheme was "beneficial for the farmers and the country" and that claims it lost money were wrong and motivated by political bias against her.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and/or a fine of 200,000 baht ($6,000).

The court has scheduled the hearing for September 27. Police estimated about 3,000 of the former leader's supporters showed up near the Supreme Court on Friday morning.

When she was inaugurated in 2011, Yingluck became Thailand's first female Prime Minister and its youngest in over 60 years.

The sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck was ousted by a coup in 2014 and was later impeached by Thailand's military-appointed National Legislative Assembly.

The ruling barred her from political office for five years.

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