Bangkok, Oct 12 (IANS) A Thai court on Monday issued an arrest warrant against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after he failed to show up for the first hearing of a defamation case filed against him by the army.

Thaksin is accused of defaming the army during interviews in South Korea from May 19-22. The interviews were posted on YouTube and other online media, The Bangkok Post reported.

In his interviews, Thaksin falsely accused the army, portraying it as a “dreadful institution” and a danger to the nation. The lawsuit was filed by Sarayuth Klinmahom, director of the Office of the Judge-Advocate of the Royal Thai Army.

The former prime minister’s lawyer testified to the criminal court earlier in the day that his client could not be present since he is in political exile, residing in a foreign country.

The court found Thaksin had intended to evade the lawsuit and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The statute of limitations in the case is 10 years.

In 2008, Thaksin was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison by the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Positions for abuse of power in the sale of state land to his then-wife when when he was prime minister.

He fled from Thailand before being sentenced and has since lived in self-exile abroad.