Thailand’s foreign minister said Tuesday that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled the country last year to evade a prison sentence, is in Britain, after photos surfaced online apparently showing Yingluck in London. Yingluck, whose government was ousted in a 2014 coup, was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on September 27 for negligence in instituting a money-losing rice subsidy program. She fled Thailand before the verdict and has called the case against her politically motivated.
She has not been seen in public since fleeing, but it had been generally assumed that Yingluck was in Dubai or London. Her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, maintains residences in both cities. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters today that a visiting British government minister informed Thai officials that Yingluck has been in London since September.
The confirmation of Yingluck’s whereabouts came after several photographs of her appeared in Thai and social media in the past few weeks, including one apparently taken with another woman outside Harrods department store in London. Don said the Thai government has not made a decision on whether to ask Britain to extradite Yingluck. “We have to do a 360-degree assessment of the situation first,” he said.
Yingluck’s conviction is the latest chapter in a decade-long struggle between Thailand’s traditional ruling class led by royalists and the military and the powerful political machine founded by Thaksin, who was toppled in a 2006 coup. Thaksin has lived in Dubai since fleeing a corruption conviction that he says was politically motivated.