The Supreme Court of Thailand on Friday issued an arrest warrant against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after she failed to appear in court for the verdict in a negligence case, reported Reuters. The judge said he suspected that Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2014, had either fled the country or gone into hiding.
Although her lawyers said she could not attend the hearing because she was ill, the bench said it did not believe her excuse. “We don’t think that the defendant is ill,” the court said. “We think the defendant is hiding or has fled.”
The top court will pronounce the verdict on September 27.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan also said it was possible Shinawatra had already fled the country, reported BBC. However, her lawyer Norwait Lalaeng claimed he was unaware whether the former prime minister was still in Thailand.
Shinawatra faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty in a rice subsidy scheme case. If convicted, she will have 30 days to appeal against the verdict.
The subsidy scheme, which was a flagship policy of Shinawatra’s administration, was a hit among farmers, but it had incurred losses worth $8 billion (around Rs 51,040 crore). The former prime minister had argued that she was only in charge of coming up with the policy and not its day-to-day management.