Border controls have been tightened in Thailand after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra failed to show up for the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme.
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan said it was possible the former prime minister had already fled the country.
Lawyers for Yingluck Shinawatra, who is charged with negligence, said she was unable to attend court because she was ill.
However, the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for her, confiscated her bail of $900,000 and delayed the verdict to September 27.
Yingluck Shinawatra has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost Thailand billions of dollars. If found guilty, she could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.
On August 25, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said all routes out of Thailand were being closely monitored.
“I just learned that she did not show up [at court],” he told reporters.
“I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up.”
Prawit Wongsuwan initially said he had no information on Yingluck Shinawatra’s whereabouts but as he left a meeting in Bangkok he said: “It is possible that she has fled already.”
Earlier, Yingluck Shinawatra’s lawyer requested a delay in the ruling, telling the court that she had vertigo and a severe headache and was unable to attend.
However, an official Supreme Court statement said it did not believe she was sick as there was no medical certificate and that the claimed sickness was not severe enough that she could not travel to court.
“Such behavior convincingly shows that she is a flight risk. As a result, the court has issued an arrest warrant and confiscated the posted bail money,” the statement said.
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