Bike for Dad plot suspect refutes police claim

A suspect in a thwarted terrorist plot around the Bike for Dad event has denied police claims that he was involved in planning the plot from prison.

According Matichon Online, on Wednesday, 2 November 2015, Krit Wongvech, the Director of the Central Correctional Facility of the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, Narin Promsaka na Sakolnakorn , an expert on the  judicial system, and Sakuntra Nontri, the Director of the Rights and Liberty Protection Department in Khon Kaen interrogated Thanakrit Thongngernperm at the Correctional Facility.

Last week, the police accused Thanakrit of being one of the nine suspects of a terrorist plot around Bike for Dad, a cycling rally to honour HM the King on 11 December 2015. Rumour has it that the prime target of the foiled terrorist plot was Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister.

Thanakrit, however, has been detained for more than a year since shortly after the 2014 coup d’état as he is one of the 26 suspects in the ‘Khon Kaen Model’ uprising case.  

The name ‘Khon Kaen Model’ was given to the case of 26 defendants, mostly elderly, from several provinces in the North East, accused of being hard-core red shirts who planned to rebel against the junta. The alleged operation would first be carried out in Khon Kaen, the second largest province in Isan and a stronghold of the red-shirt movement, and then in other provinces in the North and the North East.

Despite the fact that the he has been in detention, the police last week claimed that Thanakrit is an accomplice to the Bike for Dad terrorist plot, saying he allegedly contacted other suspects via mobile phones from the cells.

Thanakrit during the interrogation denied the police allegation, saying that he could not use a personal mobile phone to contact others outside the prison cells since it is the rule of all correctional facilities nationwide.

The suspect added that the prison has phone interception devices, which could track and cut off phone signals.

He told the officers that he used mobile phones only twice, on 24 July and 23 September 2015, to contact his family while he was at the military court in Khon Kaen. His wife confirmed his statement, saying that Thanakrit told her on the phone then that he wanted her to visit him in prison.

During the interrogation, the Correction Facility Director told other officials that it is strictly forbidden for inmates to use personal mobile phones and illustrated that a signal would ring immediately if the prison phone interception devices detect phone signals coming from the cells.    

“In addition, there are phone interception devices that could cut off phone signals installed in the prison, so it is very difficult for the 4,000 prisoners in this detention facility to contact others outside,” said Krit, the prison director.

On 25 November, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, announced that three suspects had been detained by the military for allegedly attempting to stage a terrorist attack around the upcoming Bike for Dad cycling rally.

The next day, Deputy Police Commissioner General Sriwarah Rangsipramkul said the military had detained only two suspects not three. The two suspects currently detained are former Pol Sgt Maj Prathin C. and Nattapol N.

The police chief added that the suspects also face charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, and the Computer Crime Act for contacting each other via the Line chat application to prepare the terrorist plot on the auspicious event for the King.

The junta leader has accused the main faction of the red shirt movement, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), of being the mastermind behind the plot.

The UDD leaders have, however, denied involvement in the plot, saying that the alleged terrorist plot is an attempt by the junta to divert public attention from the Thai Army’s Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal.