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Turbulent Thailand

Serbia grants citizenship to Thai fugitive Yingluck Shinawatra

Former prime minister ducked out of home country to avoid negligence charges

Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Aug. 1, 2017.   © Reuters

BELGRADE (Reuters) -- The Serbian government has granted citizenship to Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who fled her homeland in 2017 to avoid negligence charges.

Shinawatra, 52, went to Dubai and joined her brother Thaksin, another former Thai prime minister who also fled in 2006 to avoid a prison sentence for corruption.

The Serbian government decided to grant Yingluck citizenship on June 27, citing a legal provision that "a foreign citizen can also be granted Serbian citizenship if that is in line with the country's interests."

The Official Gazette notice about the decision was published in local media on Thursday and gave no further explanation.

Serbian officials, Thai diplomats in Belgrade and the Shinwatra family were not immediately available for comment.

Yingluck, whose family dominated Thai politics for more than 15 years, had pleaded innocent to charges related to rice-buying policies she implemented after taking over as Thailand's first female premier in 2011.

She had faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

In 2010, Thaksin was granted honorary citizenship of Montenegro, Serbia's former partner in the now-defunct state union.

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