Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on the run after fleeing her country last year, arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday attracted by its lack of an extradition treaty with Thailand, a source said.
The Post also learned that Yingluck did not ask for VIP protection from the city’s police department.
Hong Kong has signed Mutual Legal Assistance treaties with 29 foreign jurisdictions and Surrender of Fugitive Offenders agreements with 19.
Under the agreement relating to fugitives, Hong Kong would have to turn over to those countries individuals whom they are investigating for criminal activity. But the city has not yet signed such agreements with Thailand. And a Hong Kong government source said Yingluck was believed to have chosen the city for that reason.
Last year, Yingluck left Thailand before its Supreme Court dealt her a five-year jail term for negligence in handling a rice subsidy project that resulted in massive losses to state coffers. She was sentenced in absentia and was later confirmed to be in the UK.
But according to Interpol’s website, Yingluck – the country’s first female prime minister, who held office between 2011 and May 2014 – is not on the list of people wanted by Thai authorities.
She and her brother, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had been in Japan and left for Hong Kong on Tuesday, according to Associated Press.
Thaksin was ousted as prime minister in a military coup in 2006. He fled abroad to avoid a corruption conviction and also spent time in Hong Kong, prompting the Thai foreign ministry then to push for an extradition treaty with the city.
The report said Yingluck was believed to have visited Japan for the first time after fleeing Thailand. She and Thaksin were accompanied by Somchai Wongsawat, their brother-in-law and another former Thai prime minister.
Thai media on Wednesday reported that Yingluck had sought to meet old business and political contacts in Japan, and quoted National Legislative Assembly whip Somchai Sawangkarn saying she was in Hong Kong to “muster support for her movement” and would call a press conference later this month or next month.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok