Warrants sought for 9 Phuket riot leaders

Police are seeking arrest warrants for nine key instigators of the riot at Thalang Police Station in Phuket.

"They are local, young people. Some of them have had records of drug abuse and alcohol consumption," Phuket police chief Pol Maj General Patchara Boonyasit said yesterday.

Hundreds of people went on the rampage at Thalang Police Station last Saturday night. The stoning and arson attacks went on until the wee hours of Sunday after two young drug suspects died in a crash during a police chase earlier in the day.

Some police were injured during the riot.

Patchara stressed yesterday that rioters who threw incendiary bombs at vehicles and rocks at police buildings would be brought to justice.

"We can identify almost all rioters who caused violence. There are recordings from a closed-circuit television system. There are both still and moving pictures," he said.

He added that a panel was set up to facilitate an investigation into the riots and it would be concluded within 30 days.

Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda warned people who feel they are subject to unfair treatment by state officials against taking matters into their own hands, rather than letting the law run its course.

"If you violate laws, you will be seen as offenders - not victims," he said.

Anupong said Thais needed to learn that violence would not solve problems. "We need to respect laws. If any official is bad, take legal action against that official," he said.

Thalang Police superintendent Pol Colonel Chanucharn Chonsuwat said the morale of his staff had increased after senior police offered moral support.

Chanucharn said if possible, he would like to ask for understanding from the public. Like other sectors of society, he said the police force may have both good and bad members.

"Please don't stigmatise police. Single out bad policemen so that we can remove them for a better police force," he said.

Chanucharn was speaking as the force celebrated National Police Day.

At a ceremony in Bangkok, National Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda encouraged police staff to continue doing good and right things. He said wayward staff would need to change their behaviour and comply with the law.

"We need to serve the people and win their trust," he said.