4 suspects in Bangkok bombs case claim military tortures them

Four of nine suspects in a case related to explosions in Bangkok said they faced torture and ill-treatment during military detention in March. The torture methods included beatings and electric shocks.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) called for an independent investigation into the torture complaints from four suspects in a case related to explosions at the Bangkok Criminal Court and Siam Square and planned explosions in other locations in Bangkok.

The four suspects who were reportedly tortured during detention from 9-15 March are Sansern Sriounruen, Charnwit Jariyanukul, Norapat Lueapol and Wichai Yusuk.

“The four suspects have been subjected to torture including being hit, punched and kicked in their head, chest, back and threatened with assault in order to extract information from them,” said the TLHR. “In addition, some suspects were electrocuted leaving visible marks on their skin while being held in custody under martial law from 9 to 15 March 2015.”

Rights groups, including the Human Rights Watch, have also voiced concerns over the detention incommunicado of Nattatida Meewangpla, the female suspect in the case. She emerged from military detention after being detained for seven days. The junta spokesman on Tuesday retracted his initial denial of her detention.  

Human Rights Watch called the abduction an abuse of authority which is common under martial law.

“Nattatida Meewangpla’s arrest and secret detention by the Thai military should set off flashing red lights,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. “Holding a witness to alleged military crimes incommunicado for six days is a profoundly disturbing abuse of authority that has become commonplace under martial law.”

A volunteer medic during the 2010 military crackdown on the red shirts, Nattatida worked alongside Kamolket Akhad, another volunteer, who was shot dead in Pathum Wanaram temple on 19 May 2010.

Thailand’s martial law allows the military to detain a person without charge up to seven days. The military must then either release the detainee or press charges under the Criminal Procedure Code.

Nattatida’s case resembles that of Kritsuda Khunasen, a red-shirt activist who was detained without charge for more than 20 days in June 2014. After pressure from civil society, the military brought her to a press conference and released her. She fled to Europe and revealed that she was subjected to torture and sexual harassment during her illegal detention.  

Terrorism charges against suspects related to Bangkok bomb

The military court on Tuesday granted permission to detain Nattatida, aka Wan, Nares Intharasopa, and Wasana Buddee, for their alleged involvement in the explosions in front of Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court early this month.

The three will be held in Bangkok prisons for the first period of 12 days with the possibility that the period will be renewed.

Winyat Chatmontree, a human rights lawyer from the Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), submitted 600,000 baht bail for Nattatida and 400,000 baht bail for Wasana. However, the military court denied bail for the two suspects, citing the severity of the charges and flight risk.

Winyat added that the family of Nares, another suspect, will submit a bail request on Wednesday.

According to Thairath Online, the police accused the three of possessing illegal weapons, carrying weapons in a public place, involvement in terrorist plots, and attempted murder. The police also suggested that the three might be connected to a terrorist plot to carry out explosive attacks in 100 different venues nationwide.       

Winyat said the terrorism accusations against the two female suspects, Nattatida and Wasana, are far-fetched. Nattatida is allegedly connected to the case because she borrowed money from one of the suspects. As for Wasana, she let one of the suspects whom she did not know use her financial account.

Nattatida admitted that there were financial transactions between her and one of the suspects, but said that she was not involved in the case, according to Thairath Online.

The police also said that Manoon Chaichana, aka Anek San Fran, a red-shirt anti-monarchist businessman living in San Francisco, is connected to the case as one of the instigators of the alleged terrorist plot.

Manoon has been charged in 33 cases since the 2014 coup, two of which are lèse majesté and not reporting to the junta, according to Krungthep Thurakit Online.