Bangkok blast suspects face 10 charges in military court

Bangkok blast suspects face 10 charges in military court
Erawan Shrine bomb suspects Mieraili Yusufu (centre) and Bilal Mohammed (behind) are brought to the Military Court in Bangkok yesterday before being indicted on 10 charges.
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

THE Bangkok military court has formally indicted the two prime suspects in the August bombings in Bangkok on 10 charges.

On Monday, the prosecutor submitted the indictments for Bilal Mohammed and Mieraili Yusufu, who are being held at a special military prison.

Both men were escorted to the military court yesterday morning in handcuffs.

The court set February 16 as the date of the first hearing of testimonies and it instructed the suspects to provide background details of their translator within 15 days.

The suspects, whose seventh 12-day detention period at the 11th Military Circle facility has already expired, face 10 charges. They include premeditated murder; illegal possession of unauthorised explosives and using the explosives to kill others; conspiring to bring a weapon into the city area without a sound reason; and conspiring to cause an explosion that led to the deaths of others, serious injuries and property damage.

Chuchart Kanpai, Bilal's lawyer, said the military court judge did not ask them to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty due to the language barrier. He said Bilal does not understand English well.

The prosecutor filed a request for Special Branch Bureau's foreign affairs inspector Pol Lt Col Tuaytep "David" Wibunsin to be Bilal's interpreter, but Bilal objected. Mieraili, on the other hand, accepted David as his translator, Chuchart added.

Bilal then asked the court to appoint an Uzbekistani man named Baccadirok Serodigin (sic) to be his interpreter but the prosecutor objected on the grounds they did not know the man's background, Chuchart said. The lawyer told the court he would submit the Uzbekistani interpreter's details within the next 15 days before the first hearing of testimonies.

The two men were arrested for their alleged role in two August bombings in Bangkok.

The August 17 blast at the Erawan Shrine killed 20 people and injured more than 100 others, while the bomb that exploded the following day at Sathorn Pier caused no casualties.

Following the bombings, Bilal was arrested at a Nong Chok apartment in late August, while Mieraili was apprehended in the border province of Sa Kaew in September.

Thai officials have said the attacks were orchestrated by a people-trafficking network as revenge against Thai authorities for breaking up their operations, particularly the smuggling of Uighur people from China's Xinjiang region via Thailand to a third country.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of more than 10 individuals linked to the Bangkok bombings.

The suspects include Abdullah Abdulrahman, who Bilal had implicated as the man who instructed him to place the explosive backpack at the shrine.

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