According to Police General Suwat Jangyodsuk, Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, a police detention pick-up truck driver who fled the scene of an accident after running over a protester was afraid of the threat posed by nearby demonstrators.
A protest at Din Daeng. (File photo)
A film clip of the incident, which occurred late last Sunday, was posted by the Reporters news agency. A police car can be seen ramming an individual who appeared to be running away from it. The victim reportedly required treatment for injuries on the chin and torso. Redistributed online, the footage elicited angry commentary from local netizens.
According to Voice Online, Police General Suwat explained that the driver of the truck with HJ 5399 BKK license, Sergeant Noraseth (surname not stated) had been ordered to return to the Plubplachai Police Station after performing crowd control duty at Din Daeng Intersection.
The sergeant alleges that some 6-7 protesters approached his vehicle, hitting it with sticks while throwing objects and fireworks at its windows. Unarmed, he decided to flee the scene as fast as he could, ramming a protester who was blocking his way in the process. He also claims that one of the tires exploded before he arrived at the station.
The Police Commissioner noted that Sgt Noraseth has filed a complaint to the police and added that the crash victim had the right to take legal action as well. He also said that the incident was not a ‘hit-and-run’ as Noraseth reported it after returning to his station.
The incident came a night after the escalation of police measures to end demonstrations at the Din Daeng Intersection, a traffic hub close to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence. For months running, protesters attempting to reach the PM’s house have met with rubber bullets, tear gas and container blockades.
In response, some protesters have been bringing firecrackers, hand-made explosives and firearms to the marches. Since August, the intersection has been the scene of increasingly violent clashes.
In early September, crackdowns and arrests increased after police announced plans to end the Din Daeng protests within the space of a week. On the evening of 11 September, police at the site arrested 78 people including 6 minors, 2 Cambodian nationals and some 20 taxi drivers and food vendors. That same evening, a crowd control police officer suffered severe facial injuries after being hit by an explosive object.
On Monday, Police Major General Piya Tawichai, Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) stated that since July, the police have brought charges against 756 people in 204 cases and arrested another 511 people.