Originally published on Channel NewsAsia on January 9, 2018
According to Pheu Thai Party sources, former and now fugitive Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is currently in the UK on a business visa. What this means for her and how - or rather if - the current Thai military government is intensifying their "hunt" to bring her back? Here's my explainer.
The confirmation by the Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai is so far the most concrete indication of the whereabouts of former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra - at least from the Thai official side.
The comment comes after photos of the former, now fugitive Prime Minister have been widely shared online, showing her to be supposedly in the British capital of London.
The photos cannot be independently verified.
The Foreign Minister didn’t say what Thai authorities would do next and whether or not they will seek Yingluck’s extradition, but he said that they have been in touch with their British colleagues. Thailand and the United Kingdom do have an extradition treaty.
It is rumored that Miss Yingluck is seeking a political asylum in the UK, ever since she has failed to show up before a court verdict here in Bangkok last August.
The former PM, who was toppled in a military coup in 2014, was charged with criminal negligence for her government’s mismanagement in a popular, but highly-expensive rice subsidy scheme that cost the country billions of dollars.
She was sentenced later in abstentia to 5 years in prison.
Miss Yingluck herself has yet to make any public comment or statement since she fled Thailand, so until then it looks like that she will remain silent in the UK.
Saksith Saiyasombut, Channel NewsAsia, Bangkok