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Politics

Yingluck is in the UK, says Thai police

Request made to Interpol but former PM said to be seeking asylum

Ousted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok in August.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thailand's fugitive former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has left Dubai and is now in the U.K., local police said Tuesday.

Deputy National Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters in Bangkok that Thai police have requested Interpol issue a "red notice" to its 192 member countries and regions to help locate and arrest Yingluck.

While the red notice is the most serious of the notices Interpol issues, it does not compel any member country to make an arrest, leaving the decision to local governments.

Srivara did not say if Thai authorities have made an extradition request to the U.K. Both countries have signed an extradition treaty.

Local media are reporting that Yingluck may seek political asylum in the U.K. Her administration was toppled in a military coup led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Yingluck left Thailand late August, before a court verdict scheduled for Aug. 25 on the negligence case involving her government's controversial rice-subsidy scheme. In her absence, she was sentenced to five years in prison on Sept. 27.

Via Cambodia, Yingluck initially fled to Dubai where her elder brother and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resides. Thaksin, whose government was also toppled in a military coup, is now on a self-imposed exile to avoid corruption charges.

The Shinawatras boast a strong supporter base of farmers and low-income earners while the Bangkok elites including the military are against their populist policies. The deep divide has locked Thailand in a political power struggle for more than a decade.

There is speculation that the Thai junta had assisted Yingluck's escape as a prison sentence could have stirred further unrest. Three policemen were allegedly involved in driving the former premier to the Thai-Cambodia borders two days before the Aug. 25 verdict.

Srivara on Tuesday said that results of an ongoing DNA test which would show the link between the policemen and Yingluck would come out in two to three days.

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