Two suspects in Bangkok shrine bombing plead innocent

BANGKOK - Two members of China's Muslim Uighur minority pleaded innocent Tuesday to carrying out the deadly bombing of a Bangkok landmark last year, with the lawyer of one saying his client claims to have been tortured to elicit a confession.

See Full Article

The two men - Bilal Mohammad, 31, and Mieraili Yusufu, 27 - face eight charges related to the bombing, including conspiracy to explode bombs and commit premeditated murder. Twenty people, including 14 foreign tourists, were killed and more than 120 injured in the August attack, one of the deadliest acts of violence in Bangkok in decades.

The suspects made their first appearance at a military court in the case since November, when they were read the charges against them.

Bilal, also known as Adem Karadag - the name on a fake Turkish passport he was carrying when he was arrested - faces two additional charges of violating immigration law by entering Thailand illegally. At their November court appearance, the defendants had refused to take a plea because there was no Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) translator available.

Both men told the court Tuesday that they were Chinese citizens but members of the Uighur minority, from the city of Urumqi in western China's Xinjiang region.

Thai authorities have said the bombing of the popular Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok 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 had forcibly repatriated more than 100 Uighurs to China, where they may be persecuted. The Erawan Shrine is especially popular among Chinese tourists, and many were among the victims of the bombing.

"I couldn't say what my exact address in China is because I'm afraid of the Chinese government," Bilal told the court through a Uighur-speaking translator from Uzbekistan.

Police are hunting for another 15 suspects in the case, but no progress has been announced.

Bilal's lawyer, Chuchart Kanpai, told reporters after the court session that his client said he had been tortured in late September, about three weeks after his arrest, to pressure him to admit that he was the person seen in surveillance video planting the bomb.

Bilal claimed his captors poured cold water into his nose, threatened to send him back to China and had a barking dog frighten him. Chuchart said he filed a complaint with the court last month over the torture allegations.

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

Yusufu did not have his own lawyer, so the court appointed a military attorney to represent him Tuesday. He said he wanted to find his own civilian lawyer, whose fees he would pay himself.

Bilal was arrested Aug. 29 at a Bangkok apartment, while Yusufu was arrested Sept. 1 near the Thai-Cambodia border.

Police say the case against the two men 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.

The court announced Tuesday that it had set April 20-22 for hearings to examine the evidence in the case.

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



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Pakistani plane with more than 40 people aboard crashes

    World News CBC News
    A Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying more than 40 people crashed on Wednesday en route to Islamabad from the northern city of Chitral, a regional police official said. The national flag carrier confirmed in a statement that Flight PK-661 had lost contact with air traffic controllers on Wednesday afternoon. Source
  • ISIS launches overnight attack against Iraqi troops in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- Islamic State militants launched an overnight attack against Iraqi security forces in the southeastern part of Mosul, a day after troops advanced deeper into that part of the city, Iraq's military said Wednesday. Source
  • Syrian rebels pull back further as military gains in Aleppo

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Syrian government troops and allied militiamen seized more ground in Aleppo's ancient quarters on Wednesday, further widening their control over an enclave in the divided city that has been in rebel hands since 2012, Syria's state media and an opposition monitoring group said. Source
  • 60 feared drowned off Yemen after boat disappears

    World News CBC News
    The Yemeni government says 60 nationals are feared drowned in the Arabian Sea after their vessel went missing late last week. In a statement, the internationally recognized government said Tuesday the vessel disappeared some 40 kilometres from the remote Socotra island five days ago. Source
  • Critics worry after Trump security chief fuels conspiracies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- On issues of national security and intelligence, no one is likely to have more influence in Donald Trump's White House than retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn. Yet Flynn, Trump's incoming national security adviser, has gained prominence in Republican politics by fueling conspiracy theories and Islamophobic rhetoric that critics warn could create serious distractions -- or alienate allies and embolden enemies -- if it continues. Source
  • Liberals hold on to honeymoon gains in national polls

    Canada News CBC News
    Justin Trudeau's Liberals continue to enjoy more support today than they did in the 2015 federal election and have yet to see their poll numbers take a negative turn. But as the government enters the second year of its four-year mandate, it's making decisions that have the potential to disappoint some of its new supporters. Source
  • Millions of vehicles with potentially dangerous recalls still on road

    Canada News CBC News
    Millions of vehicles in Canada, an estimated one in six, have an outstanding safety recall, and auto industry experts say not enough is being done to fix them. These include cars with safety defects that may result in crashes, injury or death, according to the manufacturers. Source
  • 'Danger Report': Real estate pros fret court could break lock on secret sales data

    Canada News CBC News
    There's little doubt Canada's real estate industry feels under siege these days. Just check out the recent Danger Report commissioned by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which analyzes "negative game changers emerging in real estate. Source
  • The architects of Ontario's energy disaster are in the PMO. Be afraid

    Canada News CBC News
    It is uncontroversial to call Ontario's energy situation a disaster. As Premier Kathleen Wynne has herself conceded: Ontarians are now having to "choose between paying the electricity bill and buying food or paying rent." Wynne's polling numbers suggest that most Ontarians know where to square the blame, with a pitiful 15 per cent approval rating and the 58 per cent of the electorate believing she should resign. Source
  • 'Shocking waste': Federal government spent more than $400K to renovate new office building

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government spent more than $416,000 to renovate a two-year-old office building in downtown Ottawa, including paying more than $5,000 for 56 coat hooks. Among the taxpayer-funded renovations carried out to the 17-floor Elgin Street office tower since the Liberal government came to power: $52,413 to build a bike storage room; $59,451 for new furniture; and $3,426 to "modify the lighting to an existing quiet room" by installing a window film and a dimmer…