SECURITY OFFICIALS have assessed “all dimensions” that could unfold today when the court rules on the case of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, including the possibility that she might attempt to flee the country after the verdict, said National Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda yesterday.
The police team involved in preparing for the verdict and public reaction have plans to deal with a “worst-case” scenario, said Army Chief Chalermchai Sitthisart, who is also secretary to the National Council for Peace and Order.
Chakthip said security officials will be closely monitoring “all dimensions” of the verdict and its aftermath, including those involving key figures such as Yingluck and even her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Leaving little to chance, police are prepared for the possibility of Yingluck attempting to flee Thailand after the verdict, while keeping close watch on moves by her brother, Thaksin, who fled overseas in 2008 to escape charges of abuse of power.
Chakthip has placed his deputy, Pol General Srivara Rangsibhramanakul, in charge of the situation. The large and very visible police presence consists of at least 24 units, of 150 officers each, to take care of security around the court compound. There will be three checkpoints set up, and one central security unit in front of the compound to monitor the situation.
Chaktrip said he trusted the force could handle whatever arose, but wanted to ensure there would no trouble caused by a third party.
Social media would also be under surveillance, he said.
Chalermchai, the Army chief, said the situation was still “normal” and no signs of problems had emerged as of yesterday.
He added that security officials had prepared detailed measures to deal with multiple issues, including a worst-case scenario, in the event that the verdict-reading runs on into the evening.
However, he said that serious trouble is unlikely, adding that the military had no plans to set up checkpoints at the court site, but would rather leave security duties to the police.
Assessments suggest 3,000 to 3,500 Yingluck supporters will show up outside the court, said the general. Their legal right to travel to the court to support Yingluck would not be infringed upon, he said, before warning that anyone violating the law would face legal action.
Authorities have reportedly set up checkpoints on roads leading to Bangkok, while red-shirt leaders are being interviewed by police. Prime Yingluck has added her voice to a request from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that Yingluck supporters stay away from the court today. Yingluck suggested that people stay home and watch events unfold on TV rather than risk a confrontation triggered by “third parties”.
Police measures to secure the court compound yesterday included a sweep by bomb disposal officers from the Royal Thai Police’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. They will also be deployed today along with sniffer-dogs to check the compound for suspicious objects, according to Patrol and Special Operation division commander Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpan.
Meanwhile police have installed barricades to prevent the crowd from entering the prohibited area. Satellite vans are now parked court-side to receive signals from CCTV cameras installed in the area. Plainclothes officers will also be deployed to mingle with the crowd today, said Metropolitan Police deputy commander Pol Maj-General Panurat Lakboon.
“We believe that supporters have no ill-intention, but we want to ensure there will be no trouble caused by a third party,” said Panurat.
The Supreme Court is today set to hand down a final verdict in the rice-pledging cases against Yingluck and her former commerce minister, Boonsong Teriyapirom.
If convicted of malfeasance and dereliction of duty, Yingluck could face up to 10 years in jail. She could also be required to pay more than Bt35 billion lost through alleged failures in the implementation of the rice-subsidy policy.