Ms. Shinawatra, who headed Thailand’s government between 2011 and 2014, failed to appear for a verdict in her criminal trial on Friday.
A highly-placed source in the Pheu Thai party of Yingluck Shinawatra told US broadcaster CNN that the former Thai prime minister has fled to Dubai.
Yingluck left Thailand on Wednesday – two days before a verdict was due to be delivered in a trial over rice subsidies – and is now “safe and sound” in Dubai, the source said.
She was due to appear in court on Friday (Aug 25) but a warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to show up.
Senior police official Sriwara Rangsibhramakul told CNN that there was no official record of Yingluck leaving the country, which would suggest she slipped into a neighboring country first by crossing a land border.
Asked if it was possible she fled via a natural land border, Rangsibhramakul would only say: “That is possible.”
At the hearing on Friday, Yingluck’s lawyer said she was ill, but did not produce a medical certificate. The explanation was rejected and Thailand’s Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant.
Yingluck – ousted by a military coup in 2014 – had been barred from leaving Thailand without court approval since 2015, when her trial started.
Her bail of 30 million baht (S$1.2 million), posted when the trial began more than two years ago, has been confiscated.
Yingluck faced up to 10 years in prison for alleged negligence over the rice-buying scheme, which cost the country billions of dollars.
The court has set a new date for the verdict of Sept 27.