The ousted prime minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, has no intention of fleeing the country, according to Norawit Laleng, Yingluck’s lawyer. He claimed the ruling military junta spread the rumors, attempting to bring shame on Yingluck before she is due to face criminal charges this month. “The opposition is trying to make out that she wants to flee abroad in order to discredit her,” Reuters quoted Norawit as saying.
Thailand’s attorney general will submit a subpoena to its Supreme Court Feb. 19 and wants Yingluck to be present at that time. Norawit said Yingluck’s presence was not required by Thai law, but that she intended to be there to fight the charges in person. The government previously denied Yingluck’s application to be in Hong Kong from last Sunday to Feb. 22 to ensure she remained in the country to face the criminal charges, which could result in as many as 10 years in jail should she be found guilty. “If she had a plan to flee, she would not have publicly asked for permission to go abroad,” Norawit told Reuters.
In a message passed to foreign envoys at a Wednesday meeting of the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order, led by the army’s chief of staff and head of the Intelligence Directorate, the NCPO denied it was targeting Yingluck by denying her travel rights, the Bangkok Post reported. “The NCPO is concentrating on administering the country and restoring law and order. It did not interfere in the judicial process,” the envoys were told, according to the Post.
The military stopped Yingluck’s motorcade from leaving her house in Chiang Mai Tuesday, while she was on her way to a religious ceremony for deceased family members. The convoy was checked, but the army said they did not touch the vehicle carrying Yingluck. “We have to apologize if we caused her discomfort. But please understand that soldiers set up a checkpoint with police as a routine practice to take care of all VIPs in the area. We have no intention to cause any disturbance,” the local army chief said, according to the Bangkok Post.
Yingluck was the country’s first female prime minister, coming into power in 2011. She was ousted around the time of a military coup in May 2014 led by then-army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is the current prime minister. Yingluck was charged with corruption over her rice subsidy program, which led her to be impeached.