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Yingluck pulls vanishing act on crunch court date
26 August 2017, 01:19 | Colleen Roy
Outside the courthouse, Yingluck's lawyer said she was suffering from Ménière's disease, and that severe headaches kept her from court. "She is ill, but we are still unable to find her", Gen Prayut said. "The court does not believe that she is sick... and has made a decision to issue an arrest warrant", said the judge Cheep Chulamon before the press came in numbers to attend the verdict in the high-voltage to the supreme court. Sources from Shinawatra's Puea Thai Party told multiple news agencies that she was no longer in Thailand. The judge said Yingluck failed to provide a medical certificate, leading the judges to believe she meant to flee the trial.
"If she's not guilty she should stay and fight the case", he said. "She won't give up easily", supporter Vittawat Suwanpuk told the Times. But Yingluck and her aides have insisted she respects the justice system and would contest her charge to the end.
"I think that she learned very fast and adapted herself very well. she is very determined to do her duty", Chaturon Chaisang, a veteran politician and former cabinet minister in her toppled government told AFP earlier this week. She is liable to a maximum prison term of 10 years if convicted.
The Shinawatras emerged as a political force in 2001 when her billionaire elder brother Thaksin swept to power.
Thaksin, who has lived in Dubai since fleeing a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated, has studiously avoided commenting on his sister's case, apparently to avoid imperiling it.
That movement, pitted against a Bangkok-centered royalist and pro-military elite, has been at the heart of years of turmoil.
Protests and court cases have hacked at their governments and finances, followed by the 2014 coup.
But instead of being a boon for Thailand, other rice-producing countries like India and Vietnam stepped up their production to fill the gap left by Yingluck's program, causing big losses for Thailand and its rice farmers, many of whom weren't paid what the government had promised them.
Norawit Lalaeng, her lawyer, could not confirm on Friday that Ms Yingluck was still in the country, and attributed her failure to appear in court to an "ear fluid imbalance", according to Reuters.
The crowds came despite a plea from Yingluck on Facebook to stay away from the court due to security concerns.
Thousands of supporters were expected to turn up outside the Supreme Court in northern Bangkok for the ruling, raising the spectre of confrontations with the police.
Prawit Pongkunnut is a rice farmer from the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.
"There was a huge police presence at the courthouse where hundreds of her supporters had gathered for the verdict". The current regime has also accused Shinawatra of trying to buy votes by subsidizing farmers in the rural areas where her party dominates. A fine or a suspended jail sentence, or a combination of the two, had seemed the most likely outcome of Ms Yingluck's trial.
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