Assailed by protests, a coup and now a prison sentence, Yingluck is the latest member of the Shinawatra clan to fall victim to an army-backed establishment that loathes her family.
After a lengthy trial under junta rule, Bangkok’s Supreme Court on Wednesday convicted Yingluck of negligence over a rice subsidy policy that was riddled with graft and cost the state billions of dollars.
But the former premier was a no-show, having pulled a dramatic Houdini act one month earlier when she slipped out of the kingdom ahead of the scheduled verdict.
Yingluck has yet to emerge publicly but sources say she joined her brother Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai, where the fellow ex-premier has kept a home since he fled his own corruption conviction in 2008.
The jail sentence makes it highly unlikely Yingluck will ever return home, spelling the end of a tumultuous six-year innings that saw her rise from political novice to premier.
Propelled to power in July 2011 by her family’s electoral base in the poor north and northeast, Yingluck was pilloried as a political lightweight armed with little more than a winning smile and a hotline to her elder brother — who once referred to her as his “clone”.
But she stepped out of his shadow, displaying a unexpected resilience as protesters besieged her home and opponents clobbered her with a raft of court cases.
“I think that she learned very fast and adapted herself very well… she is very determined to do her duty,” Chaturon Chaisang, a veteran politician and former cabinet minister in her toppled government, told AFP before the court ruling.
“But she might not have understood what was going to happen to her… that she would become the victim of a political game.”