BANGKOK/KHON KAEN - Hundreds of supporters of ousted former Thai prime minister Yingluck began to gather outside Bangkok's Supreme Court early on Friday hours before the court was due to rule on a negligence case against her in which she faces up to 10 years in prison.
The long-awaited verdict could inflame tension in the Southeast Asian country and have far-reaching implications in the politically divided kingdom.
Bangkok's metropolitan police said around 4,000 police were deployed at the court and checkpoints had been set up.
A rice subsidy programme - a flagship policy of Yingluck's administration - saw her government buy farmers' crops at prices up to 50 per cent higher than market prices. The policy was popular with farmers but left Thailand with huge rice stockpiles and caused $8 billion in losses.
Yingluck, who has pleaded not guilty to the negligence charges against her, has said she was only in charge of coming up with the policy but not the day-to-day management of the scheme. Her administration was removed in a 2014 military coup.
In the northeastern province Khon Kaen, a Shinawatra stronghold, a leader of the red shirt political movement that supports Yingluck said her supporters felt frustrated. "Some people may want to demonstrate publicly to show their unhappiness about how Yingluck is being treated," he said.