AT LEAST TWO vehicles probably were involved in the escape of fugitive former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on August 23, two days before she was due to hear the Supreme Court verdict in her negligence case, said deputy police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul yesterday.
Srivara said CCTV footage showed the first car leaving Yingluck’s residence in Soi Yothinpattana 3 carrying a female passenger and a driver. The car headed to Min Buri district, where the woman was seen leaving one car and getting into another, which she used to travel to Sa Kaew.
The second car appeared to reach Sa Kaew after 10pm, when immigration checkpoints were already closed. However, whether she left Thailand in the car afterwards had not been confirmed, Srivara said.
He refused to confirm whether the car seen in Sa Kaew was the same one as that seen in earlier reported CCTV footage. “We can’t identify the cars yet, nor answer whether they have already been found or not,” he said.
The woman was suspected but not definitively identified as Yingluck, because she could not be seen clearly in the footage, the deputy said.
He said at least two people, the drivers of the cars, were suspected to have helped Yingluck flee given the new information.
Because the escape was made before an arrest warrant was issued against Yingluck for failing to show up at court, the suspects were not guilty of facilitating a fugitive’s escape, but rather for illegally transporting people across borders, Srivara said.
Everyone involved would be prosecuted regardless of their ranks or offices, he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said security authorities had followed up CCTV footage but had not determined how Yingluck could have fled.
Yingluck could only appeal the verdict regarding her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme after it is read on September 27 if she is present at the time, Prayut said.
As Prayut and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan visited the UK at the invitation of Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon, he denied that talks would focus on security cooperation without touching on issues related Yingluck.
The UK is among the countries where Yingluck could possibly choose to take refuge, in addition to the United Arab Emirates, where her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, often resides.
National Security Council secretary-general General Thaweep Netniyom said further information was needed about Yingluck’s escape, although it was highly likely that she had fled via the Sa Kaew border crossing.
Thaweep said Prawit might hold a press briefing to update information about Yingluck’s escape but the date was uncertain.
“We have to find concrete evidence before presenting anything,” he added.