Thailand braces for Thaksin verdict

BANGKOK ; Thailand has stepped up security and is braced for fresh turmoil this week

as the country’s top court decides the fate of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s 2.2-billion-dollar fortune.

The government has deployed thousands of troops and assigned guards to Supreme Court judges while embassies have issued travel warnings due to fears of a violent backlash if the tycoon’s funds are seized on Friday.

Thaksin’s supporters, known as Red Shirts for their signature garb, have vowed to demonstrate after the verdict, expecting that he will lose at least some of the assets frozen after he was deposed in a 2006 coup. They have insisted any action will be non-violent. “We will wait and see what the court says, but any injustice will bring about a phenomenon,” Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan told AFP, adding that the government “underestimates the Red Shirts”.

The current Thaksin-hating administration has done little to quell fears of trouble, analysts say, instead stoking anxieties by casting the Red Shirts as a dangerous force in a bid to take the focus off the fragile governing coalition.

At least 20,000 extra security personnel have been deployed across Bangkok.