State prosecutor says former premier may have applied for political asylum
FORMER prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra may have been given a provisional visa by the UK based on humanitarian grounds while her application for political asylum is considered.
The UK law allows applicants to stay in the country for up to five years for those who are qualified and are approved by the UK’s Home Office, according to a senior Thai public prosecutor.
Responding to the recent sighting in public of Yingluck along with an unidentified Thai woman in London, Thanakit Worathanachakul, a senior prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney-General, said the former premier could also seek a further five-year extension to stay in the UK after completing the first five years.
Yingluck fled the country last year just before the Supreme Court was due to read its verdict in the case against her over her government’s rice-pledging scheme. The court sentenced her to five years in jail for neglecting her official duty while supervising the scheme, resulting in a massive financial losses to the state.
According to Thanakit, it is highly likely that Yingluck has already applied, or will soon apply, for political asylum in the UK. Citing the UK’s law, he said there must be substantial evidence and reasons to justify the application for asylum. For example, applicants may state that they are fearful of maltreatment, physical assaults and unfair prosecution if they return to their home country.
Applicants may also seek political asylum based on racial, religious, nationality or political grounds as soon as they arrive in the UK. Afterwards, they will be interviewed by UK officials, who will review documents and other evidence provided by the applicants and their lawyers.
Applicants also need to provide information on their place of residence in the UK, while their spouses and children under 18 may also apply for the same status subject to approval by the UK Interior Ministry.
If the applications are rejected, they can lodge an appeal with the UK court to review their request. Thanarit said applicants who get approval would be able to stay in the UK for five years after which they could seek an extension of another five years if they could prove they still faced persecution in their home country.
In the event that any applications are rejected by the court due to lack of qualifications, the applicants, their spouses and minor children may still stay in the UK on humanitarian grounds for a period of five years with a possible extension of another five years.
Meanwhile, national police chief General Chaktip Chaichinda insisted that the Thai police, in cooperation with Interpol, remained committed to getting Yingluck back to Thailand after a deputy national police chief confirmed that the photos showing Yingluck and another Thai woman in London were likely to be genuine.
Thai authorities said they believed Yingluck did not use her Thai passports to travel and enter the UK since the documents were already invalid.