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Yingluck disappears, rumoured to have fled country (Updated)

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, now a fugitive.(File photo by Patipat Janthong)

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered security authorities to check border crossings and search for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday.

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Afternoon update

PM orders hunt for Yingluck

Wassana Nanuam and online reporters

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered security authorities to check border crossings and search for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday, commenting "I thought she was brave enough to show up", after she failed to appear for the ruling in her trial.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said it was likely Ms Yingluck had already left the country.

"I have told security authorities to find out if she is really ill and where she is," Gen Prayut said.

"I also told them to look at legal and illegal border passes. This morning I was happy, thinking Ms Yingluck was brave enough to show up for the ruling," Gen Prayut said.

According to unconfirmed media reports, Ms Yingluck left home on Wednesday night in the vehicle of a high-level government official. She went to Koh Chang and then entered Cambodia, where she boarded a private jet to Singapore.

She would join her elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai, reports said.

Ms Yingluck failed to show up at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in Bangkok on Friday for the ruling in her trial for alleged dereliction of duty in overseeing her government's  loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme. She is liable to a maximum prison term of 10 years if convicted.

Her lawyer filed a motion claiming that Ms Yingluck was sick as result of Meniere's disease, with symptoms of dizziness and severe headaches, and could not travel to the court. He did not present a medical certificate.

The court ruled that "...it was not convincing that the defendant was sick to the extent of being unable to travel to the court."

Police have been ordered to arrest former prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after she failed to appear for her court ruling today. / Patipat Janthong

Morning story

Yingluck no-show, court issues arrest warrant

Online reporters

The Supreme Court issued a warrant for the arrest of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday after she failed to appear for the ruling in her rice-pledging trial, pleading a health problem.

As thousands of supporters gathered near the court in Laksi district, the judges rejected her explanation she was suffering from vertigo after her lawyer failed to present a medical certificate.

The court also ordered the seizure of her 30-million-baht bail bond

Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, however, did arrive at the Supreme Court on Friday morning to hear the judgement in the government-to-government (G-to-G) rice sale case against him, and said he would respect the court's decision which ever way it went.

A grim former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom arrives at the court on Friday morning. /Patipat Janthong

Mr Boonsong's co-defendant, former deputy Poom Sarapol, also arrived to hear the judgement

On Thursday Ms Yingluck told her supporters via Facebook to stay at home on Friday and not go to the court.

Reports said she was last seen when making merit at Wat Rakhang Kositaram in Bangkok on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was set to announce its ruling on Ms Yingluck, who faced trial for dereliction of duty in failing to halt her government's loss-ridden, corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme, despite being warned repeatedly to do so.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail and/or a fine of 200,000 baht.

The court postponed the reading of its judgement to Sept 27.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said Ms Yingluck’s absence was not due to any mistake by security authorities. She had many residences and vehicles.

“It is not certain if she has fled or not. But she is a former prime minister, some officials may have lent her a helping hand,” Gen Prawit said.

“She may be really ill. The court issued the arrest warrant, so we must look for her,” he said.

Police estimated  about 3,000 of Ms Yingluck's supporters showed up near the Supreme Court on Friday morning.

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