15 in custody not linked to bombings
A GROUP of 15 suspects detained by the Thai military investigating last week’s deadly tourist resort attacks were not involved in the blasts, police said, adding to confusion surrounding the case.
The junta said on August 18 that the detainees had been held during their investigation into the bombing spree, which hit tourist towns in the south, killing four and wounding dozens, including Europeans.
But the following day police officials said the group – many of whom are elderly – had instead set up an illegal network aimed at overthrowing the regime and were unconnected to last week’s attacks.
Thailand’s deputy junta chief also appeared to back that assertion.
The bombs were unusual in a country where foreigners and tourist towns are rarely caught up in the country’s frequent bouts of political violence.
Investigators have been under pressure to make quick arrests given tourism is so crucial to the economy.
The group appeared at a police station here on August 19 escorted by soldiers – the first time they have been seen in public – to hear the charges against them.
Two are women and many of the men are in their 60s and 70s.
Thai media had run reports quoting investigators as saying the group helped coordinate the recent attacks.
But Major General Chayaphol Chatchaidej, a senior official at the Office of Police Strategy, said yesterday they were not involved.
“There is no evidence linking them to the bomb attacks in the seven southern provinces ... although some of them are involved with lese majeste [royal defamation] and arms trafficking,” he said. –