Thailand mum on Serbia granting Yingluck citizenship

BANGKOK • Thailand's foreign ministry had no immediate reaction yesterday to reports that the country's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been granted Serbian citizenship, joining her brother as a fugitive globetrotting Thai with foreign nationality.

Serbia's state news agency Tanjug reported on Thursday that she was granted citizenship "because it could be in the interest of Serbia".

A government decree confirming that she was granted citizenship was published in June in Serbia's official gazette.

Serbian officials did not comment on the reason behind the decision.

Thai foreign ministry spokesman Busadee Santipitaks said yesterday she was unable to comment on the report from Serbia, and that the Serbian foreign ministry had not contacted its Thai counterpart.

She also declined to comment on any efforts to extradite Yingluck.

Yingluck fled Thailand in 2017 just days before she was convicted of negligence for implementing a revenue-draining rice subsidy scheme while she was prime minister.

She was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for the case, which she and her supporters said was politically motivated.

Yingluck had been forced from office by a controversial 2014 court decision, and the government she had formed was toppled by a military coup shortly afterwards.

Yingluck's conviction was a chapter in a long-running power struggle between Thailand's traditional ruling class and the powerful political machine founded by her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications tycoon.

 

Thaksin was prime minister from 2001 to 2006. He was ousted in a military coup amid accusations of corruption.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Thailand mum on Serbia granting Yingluck citizenship'. Print Edition | Subscribe