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Thailand's Supreme Court said it will issue an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after she failed to show Friday for a contentious trial verdict in which she could face a 10-year prison term for alleged negligence in overseeing a money-losing rice subsidy program.

A judge read out a statement saying that Yingluck's lawyers had informed the court she could not attend because of an earache. But the judge said the court did not believe the excuse because no official medical verification was provided, and the court would issue a warrant for her arrest as a result.

Yingluck's whereabouts were not immediately known, fueling speculation that she might have fled the country. There was no evidence, however, that she had left Thailand.

A verdict had been expected to be delivered within hours in the case, which the court postponed until Sept. 27. Yingluck has pleaded innocent, and decries the charges against her as politically motivated. If convicted, she has the right to appeal.

The trial is the latest chapter in a decade-long struggle by the nation's elite minority to crush the powerful political machine founded by Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a 2006 coup. Thaksin, who has lived in Dubai since fleeing a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated, has studiously avoided commenting on his sister's case, apparently to avoid imperiling it.

Thaksin is a highly polarizing figure here, and his overthrow triggered years of upheaval and division that has pitted a poor, rural majority in the north that supports the Shinawatras against royalists, the military and their urban backers.


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