World Bulletin / News Desk
The trial of Yusufu Mieraili and Adem Karadag at the Bangkok Military Court has been postponed three times due to the court's inability to find a Uighur translator, but on Tuesday it presented the two new options.
Karadag's lawyer, Choochart Kanpai, told reporters that his client had strongly objected on political grounds.
"My client has expressed his concern because there is some problem between the Chinese and Uighur. But we can understand them so I think this will proceed," Kanpai said.
The court overruled the objection and appointed Beijing’s choice.
Mieraili -- speaking in English -- had earlier also told the court that he did not need an interpreter from China because "China does not respect Uighur".
Mieraili and Karadag are accused of carrying out a bombing in downtown Bangkok in August 2015 which left 20 people dead and over 100 injured.
Both men have recanted earlier confessions saying they were coerced by Thai authorities to admit guilt.
The trial had previously been postponed after the men's original translator, Uzbek man Sirojiddin Bakhodirov, was arrested by Thai police on drugs charges, and the court refused a defense request to bring in someone from the London-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC).
On the third occasion, no translator was present so the court postponed until mid November.
Uzbek and Uighur are dialects of a language family spoken by Turkic peoples from Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China.
According to its website, the WUC's focus is to promote the right of the Uighur people to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan, however China has designated the WUC and affiliates as terrorist organizations.
Many people refer to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region -- home to many ethnic minority groups, including Turkic Uighur people -- as East Turkestan, a name the Chinese government actively discourages.
Police have said that both suspects have confessed to being paid by a mastermind to build and plant the bomb, but Karadag’s lawyer has said his client was tortured into a confession by plainclothes men in military custody.
"My client was intimidated by these men. They were waterboarded, threatened with large dogs and threatened with deportation to China," Khanphai -- who claims his client is really named Bilal Mohammed -- told reporters Jan. 16.
Both Karadag and Mieraili have refused to provide their addresses in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region out of “fear of reprisal" from the government, who the Muslim minority group accuses of curtailing their cultural and religious rights.
Tuesday's trial began with witness testimony from emergency services.