Bangkok blast probe hin­dered by bro­ken CCTV


Up to 75 per­cent of the se­cu­rity cam­eras were bro­ken along the get­away path taken by the main sus­pect in last week’s deadly Bangkok bomb­ing, Thai­land’s po­lice chief said Mon­day, re­veal­ing a ma­jor ob­sta­cle to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has only fuzzy im­ages of the still-uniden­ti­fied man.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to “put pieces of the puz­zle to­gether” but have had to use their imag­i­na­tion to fill holes left by cam­eras that failed to record his move­ments, said na­tional po­lice chief Somyot Poom­pan­moung, openly frus­trated as he spoke to re­porters one week af­ter the blast.

“For ex­am­ple, the per­pe­tra­tor was driv­ing away — es­cap­ing — and there are CCTV cam­eras fol­low­ing him. Some­times there were 20 cam­eras on the street but only five worked,” Somyot said. “Fif­teen were bro­ken, for what­ever rea­son, they didn’t work.”

“The footage jumps around from one cam­era to another, and for the miss­ing parts po­lice have had to use their imag­i­na­tion,” he said. “We’ve had to waste time con­nect­ing the dots.”

Another chal­lenge is that in­ves­ti­ga­tors lack so­phis­ti­cated equip­ment like po­lice use on the pop­u­lar TV crime se­ries “CSI” to ren­der blurry video clear, he said.

“Have you seen ‘CSI’?” Somyot asked re­porters. “We don’t have those things.”

One week af­ter last Mon­day’s bomb­ing at the cap­i­tal’s revered Erawan Shrine, which left 20 peo­ple dead and more than 120 in­jured, po­lice ap­peared no closer to track­ing down sus­pects or de­ter­min­ing a mo­tive for the at­tack.

At 6:55 p.m. Mon­day, a crowd gath­ered at the shrine in cen­tral Bangkok and ob­served a minute of si­lence to mark the mo­ment the bomb ex­ploded. Chant­ing Bud­dhist monks led prayers as on­look­ers held lit can­dles to com­mem­o­rate what author­i­ties have called the dead­li­est at­tack in mod­ern Thai history.

Po­lice have faced crit­i­cism for send­ing mixed mes­sages and stat­ing the­o­ries as fact, only to later re­tract them, adding to the con­fu­sion at a time of public con­cern.

Grilled about what progress has been made in a week, the po­lice chief said that ba­sic ques­tions about the sus­pect’s iden­tity and where­abouts re­main un­known.

Asked if he is still in Thai­land, Somyot said, “I don’t know.”

“I still be­lieve he is in Thai­land be­cause I have no ev­i­dence to con­firm oth­er­wise,” he said. Over the week­end, po­lice spokesman Prawut Tha­worn­siri said he sus­pected the man may have left the coun­try.

Po­lice have re­leased an artist’s sketch of the sus­pect who was seen in se­cu­rity cam­era video from the open-air shrine leav­ing a back­pack at a bench and walk­ing away 15 min­utes be­fore the ex­plo­sion. A sep­a­rate cam­era showed the sus­pect, wear­ing a yel­low T-shirt, on the back of a mo­tor­cy­cle taxi leav­ing the site.

“We only have those pic­tures,” said Prawuth, the po­lice spokesman. “The prob­lem is the pic­tures aren’t clear.”

Po­lice have ques­tioned a mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver be­lieved to have driven the sus­pect away. The driver told po­lice the man handed him a piece of pa­per say­ing “Lumpini Park,” the city’s largest park, which is near the shrine.


Thai peo­ple place lit can­dles at the Erawan Shrine for the vic­tims an ex­plo­sion in Bangkok, Thai­land, Mon­day, Aug. 24.

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