Police and soldiers have launched "worst-case" security risk measures to maintain order at the Supreme Court for today's rice scheme ruling, despite the fact former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has asked her supporters not to turn up.
Yingluck: Could face 10 years in jail
Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions will rule on whether Ms Yingluck is guilty of malfeasance for failing to stop corruption in her administration's rice-pledging scheme which allegedly caused the country more than 500 billion baht in damages.
If found guilty, Ms Yingluck could face a jail term of up to 10 years. However, she still has a chance to appeal to the assembly of the Supreme Court judges within 30 days.
Ms Yingluck yesterday distanced herself from the prospect of any unrest at the court by asking her supporters not to turn out but back her from their homes.
"I would like everybody who is worried about me and wants to give me moral support not to travel to the court tomorrow but follow the case at home, to avoid the risk of unexpected problems from people with possible ill-intentions towards you," Ms Yingluck said in a message on her Facebook account.
She thanked all her supporters on the eve of what will be one of the most watched events in Thai politics.
Delivering a message directly to her fans, Ms Yingluck said: "May you all raise my morale by listening to the news from your homes."
Despite her request, authorities are standing firm in their estimate that between 3,000 and 3,500 of her supporters will gather at the court.
Army commander-in-chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisad yesterday said security had been arranged to cope with a possible "worst case" scenario, implying possible chaos should Ms Yingluck's supporters be unhappy with the ruling.
There is no plan to block Ms Yingluck's supporters, he reiterated. "Just let things take their natural course," Gen Chalemchai insisted. Anyone who breaks the law will face legal action, he warned, adding that closed circuit TV cameras have been installed in the court area.
Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said he had instructed police to closely monitor the activities of red-shirt hard-core groups and others influencing Ms Yingluck's supporters, including her brother, fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Still, he is confident security at the court will ensure the proceedings pass smoothly.
Police from 24 companies will stand guard at the court to prevent "third hand" elements from carrying out any violent plots, Pol Gen Chakthip said.
The total number of police officers on duty at the court will be 4,000, according to the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Even in the cyber world, officers will keep a close watch on the activities of hardcore political activists, Pol Gen Chakthip added.
Meanwhile, the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) yesterday urged all sides to abide by His Majesty the King's advice on justice principles for the sake of peace among Thais.
While insisting it had not mobilised Ms Yingluck's supporters, the UDD also called on the government to refrain from hindering people who wish to turn up at the court. It added all processes stemming from the ruling including possible acquittal and punishments should be clearly explained to the public.