Army Commander-in-chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisad said Tuesday (Aug 29) that fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra was behind the escape of his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The army chief said he believed that Ms Yingluck had planned her escape in advance with her brother's personal jet standing by.
The escape plan was well prepared but just awaited for the right and appropriate time to go, he said.
Ex-premier Yingluck failed to show up to hear the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Offices' verdict on rice pledging scheme on Aug 25.
Gen Chalermchai said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered security personnel, particularly border authorities to find out her escape route, time of escape and escape method, as well as those who helped her escape.
For the time-being, there is still no clear evidence to confirm whether Khun Yingluck has fled the country and how. However, all circumstances lead to the belief that she has fled the country. To the question why she escaped, it is a matter for further analyses, Gen Chalermchai said.
So far authorities still have no information about it but they are looking into all CCTV cameras and natural paths which she took to escape, he said.
Gen Chalermchai said as a former prime minister, Ms Yingluck has many supporters who are ready to offer help in the escape. She also has a close aide who is a police officer with skills and experience in making escape.
One other thing, it is believed that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had planned for her escape and provided her with a personal aircraft, which an ordinary people cannot afford to have one, Gen Chalermchai said.
He admitted that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) stopped keeping close watch on Ms Yingluck following criticisms that such operation was a violation of rights. Moreover, Ms Yingluck appeared in court on every hearing and reiterated that she was ready to accept the court verdict, therefore, her no-show on Aug 25 was unexpected.
We have to admit that the NCPO had not closely kept Khun Yingluck under watch. Surveillance teams were sent to follow her from time to time, sometimes in front of her house. However, they were withdrawn after being accused by people in society that it was an intimidation against her, the army chief said.
I am certain that the escape had been well prepared and the decision was made in advance. She only waited for the right time and the right occasion, he added.
Meanwhile, Spokesman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee Udom Rat-amarit said Ms Yingluck has the right to appeal if the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions convicts her of dereliction of duty in the rice pledging scheme trial on Sept 27.
As the new law relevant to the trial procedure of holders of political positions passed by the National Legislative Assembly is not yet effective, while the existing law is in force, the former prime minister has the right to appeal if the Supreme Court convicts her of the charge.
But he made clear that Ms Yingluck would have the right only she appears in the court to hear her verdict on Sept 27.
In case she is ruled guilty in absentia, the statue of limitation of the jail sentence will not count, meaning she has to run for the rest of her life.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)