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

  • Police chief renews calls for mass casualty plan in wake of Broncos bus crash

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- A retired police chief wants the coroner's office in Saskatchewan to develop a plan for responding to mass casualties. Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill says the office was tasked with creating such a plan 13 years ago but none exists. Source
  • Ex-NAACP chief who posed as black pleads not guilty to fraud

    World News CTV News
    SPOKANE, Wash. -- A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black pleaded not guilty to welfare fraud on Wednesday. Nkechi Diallo, formerly known as Rachel Dolezal, made a brief appearance in Spokane County Superior Court. Source
  • 150 years in prison for Quebec mosque shooter would deprive him of hope: defence

    Canada News CTV News
    QUEBEC -- All Canadians have rights, including murderers like Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette, and they also have the capacity to be rehabilitated, the convicted killer's lawyer argued Wednesday. The Crown wants Bissonnette to serve a 150-year prison term but his defence team says he should be eligible for parole after 25 years. Source
  • Winnipeg educational assistant sentenced to 3.5 years for sex with student

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- A former educational assistant who gave a student money, food and drugs as their relationship intensified has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars for sexual exploitation. Sheryl Dyck, who was 42 at the time, was arrested in 2015 after seven months of having oral sex that progressed to intercourse with the 16-year-old boy. Source
  • Rob Ford's widow gets suspended sentence, 3 years probation in impaired driving case

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The widow of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to impaired driving. A judge ordered three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for Renata Ford, and also issued a two-year driving ban and a $1,100 fine for the 2016 incident. Source
  • Former Mountie with PTSD sues Ottawa after multiple northern postings

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A former Mountie suffering from PTSD after multiple postings in isolated, high risk communities has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. In a statement of claim filed in Federal Court in Halifax, a lawyer says John Christopher Bewsher was exposed to "psychologically traumatic events" in Labrador and Nunavut and received no psychological evaluation, support or counselling. Source
  • More documents from Panama Papers law firm leak out, exposing its panic

    World News CBC News
    More private documents from the Panamanian law firm at the centre of one of the biggest-ever leaks of financial records have been exposed, showing how enraged its clients were, global media outlets are revealing today. Mossack Fonseca saw 11.5 million of its client files anonymously leaked to journalists in 2016 in what became known as the Panama Papers. Source
  • World expresses outrage at Trump policy on separating migrant families

    World News CBC News
    Outrage continued to grow around the world Wednesday over the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant parents from children, including infants, at the U.S. southern border. Here is a partial list of the institutions and individuals speaking out against it. Source
  • Drivers began drag race in front of unmarked police car: OPP

    Canada News CTV News
    GODERICH, Ont. -- Provincial police say two young drivers have been charged after allegedly beginning a drag race right in front of an unmarked police car in Goderich, Ont. They say the incident happened last Tuesday at about 10:30 p.m. Source
  • Another honour for Viola Desmond: 'She would be humbled and overjoyed'

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- After decades of being overlooked, human rights trailblazer Viola Desmond is receiving yet another posthumous honour. Desmond, who was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto last year, will be honoured June 29 with a star in her hometown of Halifax. Source