By JESSADA CHANTARARAK,
ABOUT 4,000 security officers will be deployed to maintain order at the Supreme Court on Friday, when up to 3,500 people are expected to gather in a show of support for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
On that day, the high court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders is scheduled to deliver its verdict in the case, in which Yingluck is accused of negligence in connection with her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme.
Security measures will also include 40 more surveillance cameras and three walk-through metal detectors installed in the area, in addition to three patrolling helicopters, 20 riot trucks and four ambulances, according to Metropolitan Police deputy chief Pol Maj-General Panurat Lakboon.
Of the nearly 16,000-square-metre court premises, 1,500 square metres would be allocated for Yingluck’s supporters, Panurat said yesterday.
Barricades would also be erected and officers posted to prevent Yingluck’s supporters – or “third parties with bad intent” – from trespassing in restricted court areas, he said.
Authorities have repeatedly warned of unidentified “third parties” that could try to create chaos during the event.
The crowd will be monitored using CCTV, the Bangkok deputy police chief said, adding that anyone who violated the law or provoked the crowd would be recorded by the cameras and could expect to face an arrest warrant.
Supreme Court officials yesterday also told the media planning to cover the verdict that security measures had been laid out including a plan to set up checkpoints at every gate at the Chaeng Wattana government complex, with free access only at the main gate near the Administrative Court.
News reporters were advised to submit their car licence numbers in advance to avoid any difficulties.
A police source said security checkpoints would also be set up in various areas across the country starting from tomorrow ahead of “judgment day”. Any suspicious movements would be blocked and the people involved could be detained, he said.
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) deputy spokesperson Colonel Sirichan Nga-thong said yesterday after meeting with security units that NCPO secretary-general General Chalermchai Sitthisart had instructed forces to follow guidelines agreed to at the meeting.
Police would be responsible for overseeing the overall operations while the Interior Ministry and the Peace and Order Maintaining Command would play a supporting role, she said.
An estimated 3,000 to 3,500 people are expected to show up at the court on Friday as Yingluck and her former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom hear court verdicts in their separate cases.
Sirichan said difficulties could include congestion, considering that the verdict readings could take many hours.
The NCPO secretary-general also had emphasised that officers should handle the situation properly and prevent violations of the law to ensure the peace, Sirichan said.
Meanwhile, red-shirt leaders have complained that security officers are preventing them from taking action on the day of the verdict.
Red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders such as Thida Thavornseth have reiterated that red-shirt activists nationwide have been under close scrutiny by officers in the past few weeks.
Democracy advocate Sombat Boonngamanong, better known as “Bor Kor Lai Jud”, posted on Facebook on Sunday that he had been contacted by an officer and instructed explicitly to not call on people to go to the court to support Yingluck. The directive was issued as he was scheduled to speak at a public forum on the rice-pledging policy.
Key Pheu Thai Party members such as Kittiratt Na Ranong, Chaturon Chaisaeng, Phumtham Wechayachai and Watana Muangsook have insisted that they will show support for the former prime minister despite authorities’ advice to the contrary.
Watana, a prominent critic of the current regime, yesterday seemed on the verge of being jailed three days ahead of the verdict on a sedition charge, but he was later released on a court order.
The Criminal Court granted a police request for his detention, but he was released on bail of Bt200,000.
Earlier yesterday, the court fined Watana Bt500 and sentenced him to a suspended one-month prison term for contempt of court, following his live broadcast on Facebook while he was inside the court.