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 had Meniere's disease and was sufferng from vertigo, after her lawyer failed to present a medical certificate.
The court also ordered the seizure of her 30-million-baht bail bond.
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.
Ms Yingluck's lawyer in the case, Norawit Lalaeng, said he had no idea where she stayed or was being treated. Recently, he had been assured Ms Yingluck would be at the court.
Present at the court on Friday were Ms Yingluck’s elder brother Payap Shinawatra and elder sister Monthathip Kowitcharoenkul, as well as key figures of the Pheu Thai Party.
The party's legal affairs chief, Chusak Sirinil, said all key party figures were there, and had not known that Ms Yingluck would not show up.
He said the arrest warrant would allow the court to deliver its ruling in absentia.
Police estimated about 3,000 of Ms Yingluck's supporters showed up near the Supreme Court on Friday morning.
Photos by Bangkok Post and AP