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Men in Black Controversy

Police on defensive over Dec 26 conflict

Top officer admits existence of rooftop team at Labour Ministry on the day

National Police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew has become the first senior official to admit that some policemen were indeed on the rooftop of a Labour Ministry building during the confrontation between police and anti-government demonstrators on December 26.

After Adul's statement, Deputy National Police Commissioner Gen Worapong Chewprecha and National Police Office adviser Gen Jarumporn Suramanee convened a press conference to deny any link between the police team on the rooftop and the gunfire that killed a junior policeman and a demonstrator.

"Judging by the trajectory, those bullets could not have been fired from the rooftop," Jarumporn said. He was also quick to add that the police team on the rooftop had only rubber bullets and tear gas.

Pol Col Nattapon Komintarachart said the crowd-control police team he heads went to the rooftop three times between 10am and noon on December 26 to fire tear gas. "We didn't use any live ammunition," he insisted.

Jarumporn said a fact-finding committee would also be established to look into a video clip apparently showing some policemen smashing the windows of a volunteer nurse's pickup.

"An initial probe suggests that these policemen were looking for the cop killer. We will investigate this case further," he said.

Jarumporn spoke up only after Adul confirmed the police presence on the rooftop and that some officers had indeed smashed the windshield of a pickup.

"Yes. What's true is true. So, I admit it," Adul said when asked whether police were involved in the two incidents that had appeared in widely circulated video clips.

Earlier, Piya Uthayo, spokesman for the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo), had tried to suggest that some men stole police uniforms and probably destroyed people's property in a bid to slander police. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Camronwit Toopgrajank also suggested a third party was to blame for the casualties that arose from the bloody incidents on December 26.

Adul confirmed the police role in the two incidents after he led senior officers to deliver their best wishes and receive New Year blessings from the president of the Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda, yesterday morning.

When asked again about the police role in the December 26 incidents, Camronwit yesterday simply said: "I was not there. You had better ask Worapong. He's in charge of the operation under the Capo order."

The violent confrontations between police and anti-government demonstrators erupted around the Thai-Japanese Stadium on December 26 after the protesters tried to prevent the registration of party-list candidates for the February 2 election, which was held at the stadium.

Akanat Promphan, spokesman for the People's Democratic Reform Committee, pointed at how relevant officials had provided conflicting information on the incident in recent weeks.

"Now, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should provide answers herself," he said.


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