'Love Pou': As fans weep, ex-PM vows to deliver speech on Aug 1

'Love Pou': As fans weep, ex-PM vows to deliver speech on Aug 1

Suppers of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra show 'Love Pou
Suppers of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra show 'Love Pou" messages written on their palms and on balloons as they offer her moral support on Friday. Pou is her nickname. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Support poured in for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as she turned up yesterday to attend the final hearing of defence witnesses in her rice-pledging trial.

Up to 1,000 people and Pheu Thai heavyweights gathered at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to extend moral support to the ex-premier while 450 police and troops were deployed in stepped-up security.

Many carried red roses and white balloons bearing the message "Love Pou" in reference to her nickname. Some wore white T-shirts featuring her picture.

Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, who is the deputy national police chief, and Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, were present to direct security and make sure the trial proceeded without incident.

Pheu Thai members included Phumtham Wechayachai, Chusak Sirinil, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Wattana Muangsuk, Kittiratt Na-Ranong and Chaikasem Nitisiri.

The supporters chanted "Yingluck fight!" as she made her way to court. Escorted by her legal team, Ms Yingluck greeted them with smiles and a wave of her hand.

She was clearly moved by the outpouring of moral support, at times seeming to fight back tears.

"I'd like to thank the media and the people who are here today for their show of support. It's time to attend the hearing, so I must excuse myself," she said.

The former prime minister took photos with the Pheu Thai members before entering the court building.

Ms Yingluck's supporters stayed put until the hearing concluded after six hours. She spent almost half an hour greeting her supporters who shouted "We love Yingluck! Fight on!"

The ex-prime minister was heard replying: "Of course! I am."

As she declined an interview, Ms Yingluck said she would give a closing statement verbally on Aug 1.

"This is the best prime minister the country ever had," said one of her supporters, breaking down in tears.

Pol Gen Srivara said the police will meet court officials on Tuesday to discuss security arrangements for when the judgement is read out on Aug 25.

He said court officials have initially requested people be kept outside the court building on that date.

Security will be stepped up in the court compound and nationwide, he added, as concerns of violence from her supporters or detractors grow.

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