BANGKOK • The leader of Thailand's military junta yesterday said that Yingluck Shinawatra, the prime minister he ousted three years ago, is in Dubai, where she fled to last month to avoid being jailed over a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of dollars.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the army chief who led the coup, said Thailand would pursue Yingluck through diplomatic channels and police cooperation using Interpol.
His remarks came a day after the country's top court found Yingluck guilty of criminal negligence and sentenced her in absentia to five years in prison.
"She is in Dubai," Mr Prayut said, adding that the Foreign Ministry had been tracking Yingluck's movements. "The police will now have to proceed and coordinate with the Foreign Ministry and Interpol."
Yingluck's Puea Thai Party did not comment to Reuters on Mr Prayut's disclosure. But a source in the United Arab Emirates said she left Dubai for London on Sept 11, without giving further details.
The Supreme Court delayed giving its judgment last month after Yingluck failed to show up in court and police discovered she had slipped out of the country.
The Thai authorities had not disclosed Yingluck's whereabouts before, though senior party members had told Reuters she had gone to Dubai where her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for graft, has a home.
Asked yesterday by Reuters whether Yingluck had left Dubai for London, Thai deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul declined to comment.
Photographs posted on photo-sharing app Instagram by one of Thaksin's daughters show Thaksin has been in London since Sept 15. None of the photos feature Yingluck.
For over a decade, Thai politics has been dominated by the power struggle between the Shinawatras and the country's establishment, which includes the armed forces and urban middle class.
The Shinawatras remain popular with rural and poor voters, and the rice subsidy scheme had helped Yingluck shore up her support base to get elected in 2011.