Bangkok protest: CMPO seeks warrants for 39 more protest leaders

THAILAND - The Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) will seek court approval for warrants to arrest an additional 39 rally leaders for violating the emergency decree, centre chief Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday.

The CMPO has already obtained 19 arrest warrants for rally leaders, and ordered assistant national police chief Lt Gen Winai Thongsong to take custody of them without using force. Police are confident they can detain the suspects within a year.

A dozen special task forces headed by senior police officers would be appointed to arrest the 19 leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), he said, adding that police would not move to disperse the protesters.

Chalerm said he had been told that Suthep Thaugsuban stayed on the 11th floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel, protected by heavily armed men. On Wednesday, Suthep went to the 18th floor of the Intercontinental, and at 2am went back to the Dusit Thani and slept on the 18th floor. Suthep travels with a convoy of three cars and 50 motorcycles.

Chalerm said he would inform the hotels that there are two arrest warrants out for Suthep and if they do not cooperate in capturing him, they would face legal action.

He said if he did not catch the suspects, he would face charges of dereliction of duty. Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed him against using force or violence, he reiterated.

Thaworn Senneam, who is among the 19 PDRC leaders wanted by police, said he would continue his mission of uprooting the "Thaksin regime" and would surrender after accomplishing this task.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the CMPO should not discriminate against PDRC leaders, and arrest wrongdoers from all political groups. He cited incidents such as the Lak Si district attack, saying rival political groups had violated the law.

Abhisit said caretaker Deputy PM Pol General Pracha Promnog had used his personal helicopter to transport red-shirt hardliner Kwanchai Praipana from Udon Thani to Rama 9 Hospital after he was shot and seriously wounded. Pathum Thani hardcore red-shirt leader Wutthipong "Ko Tee" Kotchathammakhun escaped and fled to Hong Kong, he said.

"If there is evidence that state officials give suspects any favours, the officials must face legal action. The state of emergency does not protect officials who resort to discrimination,'' Abhisit said.