Panel set up to extradite Yingluck

Panel set up to extradite Yingluck

Moves to extradite fugitive ex-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra are being stepped up with a working committee now in operation to bring her back to face justice regardless of whether she seeks or is granted asylum in the UK as some media have reported, prosecutors said.

Amnat Chotchai, head of the working panel, said Thai authorities want to see justice served by having Yingluck serve the five-year jail term she was handed by the Supreme Court in absentia.

She has not been accused of any political crime and she attended every hearing in the rice-pledging case before absconding just days before the ruling was due to be heard on Aug 25, said Mr Amnat, who also serves as chief of the International Affairs Department at the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).

A month after Yingluck shocked the nation with her vanishing act, after earlier insisting she would see the case through to its conclusion, the Supreme Court's Division of Holders of Political Positions found her guilty of criminal negligence for not preventing corruption and irregularities in her government's rice-pledging scheme. The court sentenced her to five years in prison.

Mr Amnat said Thailand and the UK have an extradition treaty and British law allows for the forced repatriation of people prosecuted on charges of corruption and criminal negligence.

He said he will invite experts who are familiar with British law to work on the extradition plan.

Recent media reports claim Yingluck is now in the UK and that London has granted her political asylum.

But prosecutors have not yet received a formal request from police, who must provide details about the case and the charges against her as well as the court ruling, Mr Amnat said.

Chatchom Akkhapin, deputy chief of the International Affairs Department, said Yingluck's political asylum request will not deter attempts to bring her to justice.

"We don't know how it will pan out but we have to do our best," he said.

Attorney-General Khemchai Chutiwongs said the extradition process can begin as soon as Yingluck's whereabouts have been verified.

Some critics believe Yingluck will appeal to Britain to exempt her from the extradition treaty on the grounds that she is facing political persecution in Thailand. Mr Khemchai said this gambit is unlikely to work.

Thanakrit Vorathanatchakul, a prosecutor attached to the OAG, said an asylum request can be lodged with the UK if a person has a well-founded fear of prosecution on the basis of race, religious belief or political ideology.

He said it usually takes six months for the UK to grant asylum.

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