Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on Sunday denied media reports that ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled her home country amid an expected court appearance on Friday, had traveled through Cambodia on her way to Dubai.
“Yingluck didn’t use Cambodia to escape—Hun Sen,” Mr. Kanharith posted on his Facebook page, attributing the information to the prime minister.
“She used different way,” Mr. Kanharith added in a comment on the post.
The minister said in a message to reporters that Mr. Hun Sen had made the denial on Sunday morning.
Ms. Yingluck was reported to have fled Thailand after she skipped a court date related to a rice subsidy scheme she oversaw as prime minister that allegedly cost the government more than $8 billion dollars. She had been facing up to 10 years in prison.
Reuters quoted a high-level source from Ms. Yingluck’s political party saying that the ousted premier had traveled through Cambodia on her way to Singapore and then Dubai, while the Bangkok Post cited an anonymous source saying that she had crossed into Koh Kong province and received help from Cambodian officials in the capital on her way to Singapore.
Foreign Affairs Ministry and immigration spokespeople could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Ms. Yingluck is reported to be in Dubai with her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was also ousted as Thai prime minister. The siblings have a history of close ties with Phnom Penh, and Prime Minister Hun Sen in particular. Mr. Thaksin was appointed economic adviser to Mr. Hun Sen in 2009, following his ousting, when he was a wanted criminal in Thailand. Cambodia refused to extradite him to Bangkok, angering the Thai government and resulting in ambassadors from both countries being recalled.
As recently as 2013, when Ms. Yingluck was prime minister, Mr. Hun Sen praised the relationship between the two countries and fondly recalled his relationship with Mr. Thaksin.
The friendship appeared to meet its limit in 2014, however, when a military coup removed Ms. Yingluck from power. Mr. Hun Sen quickly said he would not host a government-in-exile and declined to provide open support for the former premier, who was ousted after a highly politicized ruling from the Thai Constitutional Court.
“I hope that former prime ministers Yingluck and Thaksin will understand about Cambodia’s stance, because now Yingluck and Thaksin are not the prime ministers leading their country,” Mr. Hun Sen said at the time.
© 2017, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.