Thai police seek to bring former PM Yingluck home

 Thai police have been instructed to track down and arrest former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, local media reported. 
Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibhramanakul said the instruction came from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. 

Police forces have been asked to do their best so that Yingluck can be brought back to Thailand to face justice, he said. 

Srivara has also instructed the officers in the case to regularly seek updates about Yingluck’s whereabouts from their Interpol counterparts overseas and report to him every week. According to Srivara, Thai police have asked Interpol for up-to-date information about the former PM.

Earlier, police confirmed the authenticity of Yingluck’s photo taken with a Thai tourist in London, which appeared in the Thai media on January 4. 

The photo was genuine and was not doctored, police said. However, they cannot tell when the photo was taken. 

Another photo appearing to show Yingluck in Westfield Shopping Centre in London on December 26 was also shared on social media. 

Yingluck may have been given a provisional visa by the UK based on humanitarian grounds while her application for political asylum is considered.
 
The UK law allows applicants to stay in the country for up to five years for those who are qualified and are approved by the UK’s Home Office, according to Thanakit Worathanachakul, a senior prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney-General.

He said the former PM could also seek a further five-year extension to stay in the UK after completing the first five years.

According to Thanakit, it is highly likely that Yingluck has already applied, or will soon apply, for political asylum in the UK. Citing the UK’s law, he said there must be substantial evidence and reasons to justify the application for asylum. For example, applicants may state that they are fearful of maltreatment, physical assaults and unfair prosecution if they return to their home country.

Applicants may also seek political asylum based on racial, religious, nationality or political grounds as soon as they arrive in the UK. Afterwards, they will be interviewed by UK officials, who will review documents and other evidence provided by the applicants and their lawyers.

Thai authorities said they believed Yingluck did not use her Thai passports to travel and enter the UK since the documents were already invalid.

Yingluck was accused of abusing power in May 2014. Her dereliction of the rice subsidy scheme supervision led to severe loss to the country. If found guilty, she will be subject to a jail term of 10 years and face the seizure of assets worth 35 billion baht (nearly 1 billion USD) over the loss.

The rice scheme was a flagship policy of Yingluck’s election campaign with the Pheu Thai party, which helped her win the 2011 general election. The scheme offered to buy rice from farmers at a double of market price then keep in store houses nationwide. Vietnamplus.

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