Suspects brought to court for start of Bangkok shrine bombing trial

BANGKOK - Two foreigners accused of carrying out a deadly bombing of a Bangkok landmark last year were brought to a military court Tuesday for the start of a highly anticipated trial that's been marred by one accused claiming he was tortured to elicit a confession.

See Full Article

Reporters were allowed inside the courtroom, but were asked to leave their phones, notebooks and pens outside, and officials did not announce to those outside whether the trial had begun. The two men - Bilal Mohammad and Mieraili Yusufu - are facing 10 charges, including conspiracy to explode bombs and commit premeditated murder.

It is expected that they will enter their pleas on Tuesday, which will be followed by questioning and the formal trial. Police are hunting for another 15 suspects, but no progress has been announced.

Authorities have described the suspects as ethnic Uighurs from western China's far western Xinjiang region. They say the Aug. 17 bombing of the Erawan Shrine was revenge by a people-smuggling gang whose activities were disrupted by a crackdown. However, some analysts suspected it might have been the work of Uighur separatists who were angry that Thailand in July forcibly repatriated more than 100 Uighurs to China, where they may be persecuted.

The Erawan Shrine is popular among Chinese tourists, and many were among the victims. Twenty people, including 14 foreign tourists, were killed and more than 120 injured in the bombing, one of the deadliest acts of violence in Bangkok in decades.

An official told reporters before they were led inside the courtroom that authorities were trying to arrange for translators, one who would translate the proceedings in Thai to English, and another who would translate English to the Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) language, which the defendants had asked for. At their last court appearance in November, the defendants had refused to take a plea because there was no Uighur translator available.

On Monday, Bilal's lawyer, Chuchart Kanpai, told The Associated Press that Bilal avows he was tortured by security personnel into falsely confessing to the attack.

Chuchart said that his client would deny all charges brought before the court except that of illegal entry into Thailand.

"He was tortured by officials. He didn't know if they were soldiers or police because they were non-uniformed," Chuchart said. "Back then, he confessed so that he wouldn't be tortured again. He was just saying it."

Yusufu, whose intentions for his court appearance were not known, was arrested Sept. 1 near the Thai-Cambodia border. He was carrying a Chinese passport that indicated he was from China's Xinjiang region.

Bilal was initially identified as Adem Karadag, the name on a fake Turkish passport he had when he was arrested Aug. 29.

Police say the case against the two suspects is supported by closed-circuit television footage, witnesses, DNA matching and physical evidence, in addition to their confessions. Police believe Yusufu detonated the bomb minutes after a backpack containing the device was left at the shrine by a yellow-shirted man they suspect was Bilal.

Military courts in Thailand have handled criminal cases deemed to involve national security since a May 2014 coup.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trial hears arguments over whether 'child-like' sex doll constitutes child porn

    Canada News CTV News
    WARNING: This story contains subject matter some readers may find offensive ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A forensic psychiatrist says the sex doll at the centre of a trial in Newfoundland had some “breast budding,” but is still "child-like. Source
  • Woman who feared for her life is found dead; police probe launched

    Canada News CTV News
    MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, Que. - Quebec's bureau for independent investigations into police operations says it will examine the role of a municipal force following the slaying of an 18-year-old woman. Daphne Boudreault died in hospital after her badly beaten body was found in a home Wednesday in Mont-St-Hilaire, southeast of Montreal. Source
  • Africa has worst hunger crisis in 70 years amid budget cuts

    World News CTV News
    JOHANNESBURG -- Africa faces the world's largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people facing starvation, a cut in funding to humanitarian agencies working in famine-affected areas will cause untold suffering, a spokesman for the World Food Program said in Johannesburg Thursday, responding to questions about U.S. Source
  • Car tries to ram Antwerp shopping area; security on high alert

    World News Toronto Sun
    BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities have raised security in the port of Antwerp after a car with French license plates drove at high speed through a busy shopping street, forcing pedestrians to jump out of the way. The federal prosecutor’s office said the car was intercepted late Thursday morning at the port docks and a Frenchman living in France was arrested. Source
  • Keystone XL pipeline to get U.S. approval by Monday: report

    World News CBC News
    The Keystone XL pipeline will get the approval of the Trump administration by Monday, according to a published report from Politico. The report, which cites two unnamed sources, said Tom Shannon — who is undersecretary in the State Department — plans to sign a cross-border permit for the pipeline on or before Monday. Source
  • Israel police arrest suspect in threats on U.S. Jewish targets

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centres and other institutions in the U.S., marking a potential breakthrough in the case. Source
  • Pennsylvania village being sold for $1.5 million

    World News Toronto Sun
    REDUCTION, Pa. — “The Town That Garbage Built” is up for sale. A family that has owned the Village of Reduction in Pennsylvania for nearly 70 years has decided to divest itself of the 75-acre property. The $1.5 million asking price includes farmland, 19 single-family homes and a 1914 one-room schoolhouse. Source
  • Birth notice: 'Bonnie and Clyde' capybaras are now parents

    Canada News CTV News
    Two capybaras who became celebrities last summer in Toronto when they went on the lam for weeks are now proud parents. High Park Zoo in Toronto’s west end has announced that the rodent couple, dubbed “Bonnie and Clyde” for their daring escape last May, are now parents to three “energetic capybabies. Source
  • Andrew Potter resigns McGill post after Maclean's essay on Quebec

    Canada News CBC News
    The director of McGill's Institute for the Study of Canada has resigned from his post after penning an essay in Maclean's that argued "Quebec is an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society." Andrew Potter has faced widespread criticism for the article, including from Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who said it painted a "negative portrait" of the province "based on prejudices. Source
  • Belgium raises security in Antwerp after high-speed car drives into crowd

    World News Toronto Sun
    BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities have raised security in the port of Antwerp after a car with French license plates drove at high speed through a busy shopping street, forcing pedestrians to jump out of the way. The federal prosecutor’s office said the car was intercepted late Thursday morning at the port docks and a Frenchman living in France was arrested. Source