Yingluck last seen at Sa Kaew

politics September 09, 2017 01:00


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Ex-pm’s vehicle convoy caught on CCTV footage near military checkpoint near Cambodian border days before her verdict.

THE INVESTIGATION into the flight of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has narrowed down to the border province of Sa Kaew after authorities spotted her there days before her verdict hearing in a case related to the rice-pledging scheme. 

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday that Yingluck’s convoy was last seen on CCTV at a military checkpoint in Sa Kaew province. 

Sa Kaew is 237 kilometres from Bangkok and borders Cambodia. 

However, Prawit said the CCTV footage did not show the convoy at the border checkpoint but finished at a military checkpoint in the province. He did not elaborate on whether soldiers at the checkpoint had searched the cars.

Prawit called it the first “solid evidence” to emerge from a two-week investigation of Yingluck taking the escape route via the east. 

He said the CCTV cameras could not track the vehicle’s movement any further hence there was no evidence to suggest that it had crossed the border into Cambodia. 

Officials are trying to track down the car’s driver for interrogation, he said. 

He said Yingluck could have taken any of several other routes through the area and they too were being scrutinised.

It is the first official confirmation from authorities that Yingluck was last seen heading towards Cambodia, suggesting her flight out of the country as also speculated by the police. 

The information provided by the junta tallied with the police version. 

According to police investigation, Yingluck was last seen in Sa Kaew on August 23 in a sedan, leading to suspicion that she may have fled to a neighbouring country, deputy police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul said.

Srivara said the car he and Prawit spoke of were the same vehicle but declined to reveal the brand.

Dramatic disappearance

Yingluck pulled off a dramatic disappearing act last month a few days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was due to deliver a verdict in her trial for negligence over her government’s rice pledging scheme. The court set a second date for the hearing on Septembere 27.

She has not made any public appearance since August 23, but there are widespread reports she is now with her brother Thaksin, who lives in self-exile in Dubai.

The junta has come under fire from some conservative allies over Yingluck’s disappearance, with many questioning how the junta could have let her slip through the net.

Srivara said police would continue to investigate where she had travelled to from Sa Kaew. 

However, he said he could not say if she had already fled. The Thai police attache in Cambodia has been asked to report every five days. So far, there is no evidence of her entering Cambodia, Srivara said.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sittisart revealed yesterday that intelligence information showed the trail of Yingluck’s escape route ending at a military checkpoint in Sa Kaew. 

According to The Nation, only the Burapha Force checkpoint on the main Suwannasorn Road has CCTV cameras installed. There are four probable routes the former PM could have taken. Seven kilometres from the military checkpoint, there is an intersection. A straight 30-kilometre drive from the intersection would lead to the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint, to cross into Cambodia.

However, a right turn and a 70km drive to Chanthaburi province would lead to two border checkpoints – Ban Laem and Bang Phakkad in Pong Nam Ron district – to cross into Cambodia.

Another 70km drive from Chanthaburi would lead to Trat province from where a 30-40km drive would lead to the border checkpoint at Ban Had Lek in Klong Yai district, to cross into Cambodia, the closest to Kho Kong.

A left turn at the intersection in Sa Kaew, would lead to the pass to Buri Ram province where major border checkpoints to Cambodia are located.