BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police have expanded their investigation to cover suspicious vehicles and online posts in a bid to trace former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's movements before she disappeared ahead of the Supreme Court's verdict reading in a dereliction case against her over a rice pledging scheme.
Deputy Police Chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul told a press conference on Friday (Sept 1) that police were investigating a police pickup truck reportedly seen driving out of the former premier's residence on Aug 23, two days before the verdict.
Investigators learnt that it was a vehicle from the Lat Phrao Police Station, which has jurisdiction covering the area, on a regular patrol. However, Gen Srivara said he had ordered that the truck be checked to see whether traces of DNA other than that of the officers could be found and if so, to whom they belonged.
He said investigators were also focusing on a suspicious car that could have been involved in the former PM's escape, but he refused to give any further details.
"The investigation is progressing. We need time to investigate further," he said. He added that there was no evidence to show that Yingluck had fled Thailand, or is still within the country.
There has been much public speculation about the police vehicle since the Isra News Agency released a video clip of the pickup driving out of Yingluck's residence on Aug 23.
The Central Investigation Bureau was also instructed to check Yingluck's Facebook posts in the days before she disappeared. It confirmed the authenticity of some posts but declined to disclose any details of its findings.
Gen Srivara said some people thought to have been close to Yingluck had been invited to give their accounts of events on the relevant days, and their accounts had been useful.
The deputy chief said police had also received responses from Interpol officers in Cambodia, Singapore and Dubai, who said they had no evidence of Yingluck entering their countries.
The Thai border police also had not found any trace of her slipping through the borders, Gen Srivara said, but added that it was possible for her to have slipped through unnoticed.
"But I insist that the investigation has made some progress," he said.
Meanwhile, army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart conceded on Friday that there had been no progress in finding any evidence in Thailand's border areas that might be relevant to the investigation.
The army chief, in his capacity as secretary of the National Council for Peace and Order, said the junta had not abandoned their hope of finding Yingluck and he was not worried that the ongoing inquiry would cause unrest.
The issue needed time, he said, while conceding that the ongoing investigation had encountered problems. The case might need to be handled by officials responsible for areas within the country, he said, implying that the police should take charge of it.
Asked whether the junta would try to leave the matter behind, he said: "I have a good memory of things. The army chief has vowed to report on progress, if there is any."
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meanwhile said he had not received any information that suggested progress had been made.