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Troop checkpoints to ward off Yingluck fans

BANGKOK: The army began setting up checkpoints on all key roads leading to Bangkok yesterday (Aug 21) to screen people heading to the capital as fears grow the Supreme Court could turn into a staging ground for political rallies on Friday (Aug 25) at the conclusion of ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra’s rice scheme trial.

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By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 22 August 2017, 08:41AM


Armed soldiers and police will man barricades on all roads to prevent any Yingluck sympathiser from reaching the Supreme Court for Friday’s Judgement Day on the ex-premier. Photo: Pattarachai Preechapanich

Armed soldiers and police will man barricades on all roads to prevent any Yingluck sympathiser from reaching the Supreme Court for Friday’s Judgement Day on the ex-premier. Photo: Pattarachai Preechapanich

Checkpoints are also being constructed in provincial areas and plain-clothes police dispatched to provide security outside the capital, authorities said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said he was not expecting any trouble on Friday before the ruling is handed down but trouble could flare up afterwards.

Some 3,000 supporters of the former premier are expected to arrive at the court later this week to provide a morale-boost as she faces a malfeasance charge for dereliction of duty over a rice-pledging scheme the government claims has cost it at least B500 million.

Around 1,000 of her fans turned up for each of her last two court appearances in recent weeks.

Several van operators were prosecuted for ferrying supporters to the court to hear her closing statement on Aug 1. They were fined for breaching land transport regulations and warned against transporting politically affiliated passengers in future.

Despite criticism from pro-Thaksin camps that the authorities have over-reacted in clamping down on her supporters, the Royal Thai Police said yesterday that they will press ahead with strict security measures.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said soldiers from all three branches of the military will reinforce the police in their mission to prevent any acts of social disorder.

Outside Bangkok, officers are tasked with looking for potential “troublemakers” among Ms Yingluck’s supporters.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) has decided to increase the number of officers in and around the court on Friday from 2,500 to 4,000. They will be supported by three helicopters, 20 riot-control vehicles and four ambulances, said Maj Gen Phanurat Lakbun, the deputy MPB chief.

The checkpoints, which will be jointly set up by police and state officials across various regions, are not intended to block people but “prevent possible attempts by a party to instigate an unpleasant situation”, said deputy police spokesman Kritsana Pattanacharoen.

Officers are also keeping a close watch on the pro-Thaksin red-shirt group, the staunchest ally of Ms Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party.

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The wife of red-shirt leader Kwanchai Sarakham, who lives in Udon Thani, and two other people are reportedly preparing to be at the court on Friday, according to Maj Gen Phiraphong Wongsaman, the Udon Thani police chief.

Kwanchai was sentenced last year by the Supreme Court in absentia to two years in jail after he was found guilty of leading an attack against a rival political group in 2008.

The red-shirt group’s actions have been subdued since the 2014 coup but authorities have maintained a closer watch on Udon Thani, which is seen a hive of red-shirt activity, as well as other strongholds in the lead-up to the trial.

Maj Gen Phiraphong said a 700-strong security force made mostly of soldiers was recently dispatched to Udon Thani but that their main focus there was attending annual training on national crisis management, which ends tomorrow.

The strict security will stay in place until after the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions hands down its verdict on Friday, he said.

The scheme, a brainchild of Pheu Thai, intended to help solve farmers’ woes by purchasing their crops at pledging prices, set as much as 40% and 50% over market rates.

At the court compound on Friday, officers will be required to inspect every person who enters the court and strictly regulate traffic in the area.

Visitors can expect metal detectors and body scanners, Maj Gen Phanurat said, adding up to 40 security cameras will be installed.

Drivers must use the entrance near the Administrative Court in the same compound, officials said.

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Kurt | 22 August 2017 - 13:02:16

It looks a bit or there is coming days a partial martial law without declaring it.

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