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Former leader Yingluck Shinawatra is in London: Thai Foreign Minister

Yingluck Shinawatra

Bangkok, Jan 9 (UITV/IANS) -Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled the country to avoid being jailed over her role in a rice subsidy scam that lost billions of dollars, is in Britain, the country's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday.

Don Pramudwinai said he had been informed by the British Foreign Secretary that Yingluck is in London since September.

However, the minister said he had no information about Yingluck's status in the UK or whether she had applied for asylum or other visa there, the Bangkok Post reported.

Don said Yingluck may have used a passport issued by another country to enter the UK, because all four of her Thai passports were officially revoked.

Asked if the government will try to expedite Yingluck's extradition and return to Thailand to face justice, Don said the matter will be considered from every angle.

He declined to answer whether the Thai government will lodge an objection with the British government if Yingluck applied for political asylum there, saying the issue will not affect Thailand-Britain relations.

Yingluck was widely rumoured to be seen shopping in London during the New Year holiday and a picture of her posing alongside an unidentified woman went viral on the social media.

National police chief Srivara Ransibrahamanakul earlier said the photo was probably authentic. Yingluck disappeared shortly before August 25 when the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was scheduled to deliver judgement in her rice-pledging scheme corruption trial.

In her absence, the court postponed the ruling to September 27, when it handed Yingluck a five-year jail term for failure to stop false and corrupt government-to-government sales of rice from the rice programme even though she had been told of the irregularities.

It also issued a fresh bench warrant for her arrest.