Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's ex-prime minister, has missed a verdict in a negligence trial that could have seen her jailed, prompting the Supreme Court to say it will issue an arrest warrant fearing she is a flight risk, according to the lead judge in the case.
Yingluck left Thailand on Wednesday and is now "safe and sound" in Dubai, the source said.
Leaders of her political party, Puea Thai Party have not issued any official statement on Yingluck's no show in court yesterday nor on her current location.
Source close to the Shinawatra family said Friday that Yingluck fled to Cambodia on Thursday night from Koh Chang in Trat province before flying by private jet to Singapore and onward to Dubai where her fugitive brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, resides.
Yingluck, 50, had been banned from politics for five years by the junta in 2015, but could have rallied support for her party at elections the army has promised for next year.
Yingluck, who had pleaded not guilty in the a case focused on a rice subsidy scheme for farmers, had told the court should could not attend because she was suffering from an ear problem.
The court has scheduled a new verdict hearing for September 27.
Thailand is run by a military government that took power from Yingluck's elected government in a May 2014 coup.
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A verdict had been expected on Friday as thousands of Yingluck supporters gathered outside the court and thousands of police stood guard. Yingluck supporters sympathised with her for fleeing, but didn't know who could replace her. "It's a matter for police to proceed with the arrest warrant", Wissanu told reporters, adding that her whereabouts "will be clear soon".
When she was inaugurated in 2011, Yingluck became Thailand's first female Prime Minister and its youngest in over 60 years. As a effect, authorities saw themselves forced to issue an arrest warrant for her.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military chief who engineered the 2014 overthrow of Ms Yingluck's government, said the government was "looking for her".
Government officials have anxious that Yingluck's potential conviction may spark violent protests throughout the nation, particularly in the rural areas where she has strong support. Facing a possible 10-year jail term, the former prime minister fled the country ahead of a court verdict her supporters say was politically motivated, a senior member of her party said. The sources did not say where she had gone.
The trial is the latest chapter in a decadelong struggle by the nation's elite minority to crush the powerful political machine created by Thaksin, a billionaire populist who won over rural voters who had long felt ignored with promises to improve their lives.
Yingluck said the rice subsidy scheme was "beneficial for the farmers and the country". A coup ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. He went there to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for corruption.
The court is due to rule in the separate case on Friday of Yingluck's former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom who is accused of falsifying government-to-government rice deals between Thailand and China in 2013.