'If I was behind it, PM would be dead'
Sacked Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) deputy director Pallop Pinmanee denied being behind the alleged assassination plot against caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying that if he was, he would not have missed.
Thaksin sacked Pallop, a retired Army general, after a car belonging to an Isoc officer was found packed with a significant amount of explosives and parked near the prime minister's residence on the route normally taken by his motorcade.
The officer, Army Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, was later arrested and charged with possessing explosive materials, including TNT, without a permit.
"You know me. If I was behind it, I would not have missed," Pallop, visibly shaken, said. "I wouldn't have sent Thawatchai to drive around Thaksin's residence. I would have set it off without any warning."
Pallop pointed out that the explosive materials were not assembled and therefore not ready to be detonated. "The explosives were being transported, they were not assembled to be detonated," he said.
The general said Thawatchai used to serve as his official driver when he was secretary of the Defence Council. Thawatchai was only a sergeant at time.
Pallop said he reassigned Thawatchai to work for Isoc as an intelligence officer in the restive South about three months ago. He did not explain Thawatchai's promotion to the rank of lieutenant.
Meanwhile, Lt-General Pirach Swamivat, a schoolmate of Pallop's at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, said he believed that Pallop had been framed.
He said it might have something to do with Pallop having sent his men to guard Maj-General Chamlong Srimuang, another Culachomklao schoolmate, who has become critical of Thaksin and is a leader of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy.