The leader of Thailand’s military junta says Yingluck Shinawatra, the prime minister he ousted three years ago, is in Dubai, having fled there last month to avoid being jailed over a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of dollars.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the coup, said Thailand would pursue Yingluck through diplomatic channels and police co-operation using Interpol.
His remarks came a day after a court found Yingluck guilty of criminal negligence and sentenced her in absentia to five years in prison.
“She is in Dubai,” Prayuth told reporters, adding that the foreign ministry has been tracking Yingluck’s movements.
“The police will now have to proceed and co-ordinate with the Foreign Ministry and Interpol,” he added.
Thaksin’s Puea Thai Party did not comment to Reuters on Prayuth’s disclosure.
But a source in the United Arab Emirates said Yingluck left Dubai for London on September 11, without giving further details.
The Supreme Court delayed giving its judgment last month after Yingluck failed to show in court and police discovered she had slipped out of the country.
Thai authorities had not disclosed Yingluck’s whereabouts before, though senior party members had told Reuters she had gone to Dubai where her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for graft, has a home.
On Thursday, asked by Reuters whether Yingluck had left Dubai for London, Thai deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul declined to comment.
Photographs posted on Instagram by one of Thaksin’s daughters show Thaksin in London since September 15.
None of the photos feature Yingluck.
The power struggle between Thailand’s establishment – which includes the armed forces and urban middle class – and the Shinawatras has dominated Thai politics for over a decade.
Throughout her trial, Yingluck said she was innocent and she was not responsible for the day-to-day running of the scheme, arguing that she was a victim of political persecution.