Opposition activist fabricated torture allegations, says Thai junta

Opposition activist fabricated torture allegations, says Thai junta
File photo of Thai army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

BANGKOK - An opposition activist's claims that she was tortured in military custody were "100 per cent fabricated", Thailand's ruling junta said on Tuesday, after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an immediate investigation.

Kritsuda Khunasen, 27, was one of hundreds of politicians, activists, academics and journalists held by the military after it overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a bloodless May 22 coup.

Kritsuda was arrested five days later and detained for 29 days at an unidentified military camp, where she said she was blindfolded with duct tape, slapped, punched and hooded with a plastic bag until she passed out.

The allegations come amid muted criticism of the junta after it last week appointed an interim assembly whose members were mostly acting or retired soldiers and police. Junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised to install a government by September and hold elections by late 2015.

"Thai authorities should immediately conduct an independent and detailed investigation into the alleged torture of Kritsuda Khunasen, and - if verified - bring the perpetrators to justice," Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

The Thai military told Reuters it had investigated Kritsuda's claims and found them to be untrue. "It is 100 per cent fabricated," said Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as the junta calls itself. "We checked with the officials, and no such incidents took place." A member of the Shinawatra family's red-shirt loyalists, Kritsuda made the allegations in an interview released on YouTube on Aug. 2 after leaving Thailand to reportedly seek political asylum in an unidentified European country.

She said her hands remained tied during detention, even when she visited the bathroom. "While a female soldier stripped me naked and gave me a shower, I heard male voices near me. I felt I was sexually harassed," she said.

She said in her video interview that her interrogators asked about funding for red-shirt prisoners and weapons. She said they were probing for connections between her and self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

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