Thailand Asks U.K. to Extradite Former Leader Yingluck Shinawatra

Thailand Asks U.K. to Extradite Former Leader Yingluck Shinawatra


BANGKOK — Thailand’s military government is seeking the extradition of the country’s last elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled to Britain rather than go to prison for five years on negligence charges.

Ms. Yingluck, who was forced from office in 2014, was put on trial in Thailand last year, accused of costing the country $8 billion by mismanaging a rice subsidy initiative while prime minister. She fled the country shortly before the verdict was announced, and the court sentenced her in absentia.

It was unclear why the Thai government decided to issue the extradition request now, nearly a year after she fled the country, but Ms. Yingluck has popped up recently on social media in photos and videos apparently taken in London.

“This request does not relate to the investigation, investigation or punishment of a person for an offense of a political or military nature,” said the extradition request, which is dated July 5 but came to light on Tuesday in a report from BBC Thai.

Britain granted Ms. Yingluck a 10-year visa in May, according to news media reports.

In fleeing Thailand, Ms. Yingluck joined her wealthy brother, the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in self-imposed exile.

He was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006, after five years in office, and fled Thailand rather than face corruption charges. The Thai government has unsuccessfully sought his arrest and return to Thailand for nearly a decade.

The two countries have an extradition treaty, but in the past, Britain has often declined requests to send suspects to Thailand. The Foreign Office and Home Office in London had no immediate response to questions about how they planned to handle Ms. Yingluck.

In power, both she and her brother enjoyed the support of the country’s large rural population, but their decisions alienated much of the urban elite.

In 2014, protests against Ms. Yingluck paralyzed Bangkok until a court forced her from office and, 15 days later, the military seized power.

Since then, the military has repeatedly promised that it would hold democratic elections.

The government won passage of a new Constitution last year that would let the military retain significant power even with elections and minimize the chance that another populist could win.

Even so, four years after the military seized control, no vote has been scheduled.

Last month, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former general, said elections would take place after the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who ascended the throne in late 2016.

No date has been set for the ceremony. The coronation of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, took place nearly four years after he became king.

Ryn Jirenuwat contributed reporting from Bangkok and Ceylan Yeginsu from London.



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