Thai police close investigation into Bangkok bombing

Two detained suspects to be charged with premeditated murder and bomb-making, say police

Thai police close investigation into Bangkok bombing

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thai police investigators have sent military prosecutors an 8,000-page file indicting two suspects for the Aug. 17 Bangkok bombing, closing an investigation which has been criticized as inconsistent, puzzling and uncommunicative.

Deputy Police Chief Gen. Sriwara Rangsipramanakul confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that investigators were confident that the evidence was strong enough to warrant an indictment for premeditated murder and bomb-making.

He underlined that the file asserts that the motive for the blast involved people smuggling, and is not linked to nationalism by Uighur -- a Turkic ethnic group, to which both arrested suspects belong.

So far a total of 17 warrants have been issued in the case, but only two suspects have been arrested: Bilal Mohammed, a Chinese born Uighur who claims to have been naturalized as a Turkish citizen, and Yusuf Mieraili, a Uighur holding a Chinese passport.

On numerous occasions, Thai media and police have alleged links to Turkey, but despite requests for further information from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, it has said that none has been forthcoming.

Police alleged that Mohammed -- formerly identified by police as Adem Karadag and then as Bilal Turk -- had confessed to planting the bomb at the Erawan Shrine and that Mieraili has confessed to assembling and detonating it.

The two are detained in a military facility at the 11th Army Circle in Bangkok and only Mohammed has access to a lawyer.

Despite the scale of the attack -- which killed 20 people of six nationalities and was the worst of its kind to strike Bangkok in living memory -- police have elected not to press "terrorism" charges, partly because it could dampen foreign tourism, which is crucial to the sluggish Thai economy.

Police, members of the junta and the military appointed-government have also made strenuous efforts to disconnect the bombing from the Uighur political issue -- the claim that Uighur are fleeing China due to persecution, often landing in Thai holding centers as they effort to reach sanctuary overseas.

Many of the Muslim ethnic group try to reach Turkey, which is home to a large Uighur diaspora.

In 2014, hundreds of Uighur arrived in Thailand and were detained by authorities who considered them illegal immigrants. Of that group, 109 were then deported to China in July, while around 180 had earlier been sent to Turkey.

When TV images of the deportation emerged -- showing them sitting in the plane blindfolded, handcuffed and under the surveillance of guards -- it caused uproar among local and foreign rights groups.

The incident was also condemned by the United States government and the United Nations.

Anger at Thailand’s move has been nowhere more fervent than in Turkey, where a group of people -- among them members of pro-Uighur organizations -- ransacked the Thai consulate in Istanbul on hearing of the deportations.

The consulate was subsequently closed for more than a week.

Analysts have speculated that the bombing was a revenge attack by Uighur and their overseas supporters, angry at the treatment of their countrymen, however Thai police have instead been adamant that the bombing was an act of revenge by a human smuggling network, unhappy about a trafficking crackdown launched by Thai authorities in May.

Neither of the detained suspects has said that they belong to such a ring, but at least one suspect at large -- a Pakistani national identified as Abdul Tawab -- has been accused of involvement.

Police had claimed that a Thai Muslim from Narathiwat named Kamarudeng Saho -- arrested Sept. 1 without a warrant under an emergency law -- was a “key people smuggler” connected to the case, but no further statements have been made since his arrest.

Initially, police said that Mieraili was the yellow-shirted man shown on CCTV images dropping a bag containing the bomb just before the explosion.

But police changed their account at the end of September, saying that footage taken after the explosion at a public park near the shrine, showed that the yellow-shirted man was instead Mohammed.

Police chief Gen. Chaktip Chaijinda, appointed at the start of this month, said Oct. 19 that the search for other suspects had gone cold.

Last Mod: 28 Ekim 2015, 14:09
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