Protesters demand prompt and fair probe by police

national January 19, 2014 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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Protest leaders yesterday demanded that police conduct a fair and speedy investigation into Friday's grenade attack.

Satit Wongnongtaey, a senior Democrat Party member and leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), denied that the PDRC staged a bomb attack on its own protesters, which led to one death and 40 people being injured. 
He said a video clip purportedly showing a grenade being thrown from a pickup truck belonging to a protester was not reliable and tantamount to an attempt to slander the PDRC.
Satit said that on closer perusal one could see that the grenade was thrown from an abandoned building on Banthad Thong Road. Satit also said the PDRC did not abruptly change course to march on that route, as accused by some. The route was part of plans from the beginning.
Satit warned that police should be protecters of civilians, not killers. 
Former Democrat MP Kowit Tharana, meanwhile, denied owning the pickup truck shown in the video. He said although his name was printed on the truck, it belonged to his aide, who was also injured in the attack, so it made no sense that his aide would be the one who carried out the attack as no one wants to be a suicide bomber.
Kowit said the bomb was thrown from a building and people on the back of the pickup truck were lucky as the grenade appeared to have hit a power line on a pole before hitting the ground.
PDRC protesters led by Chumpol Julsai went to the national police headquarters yesterday and submitted a letter to deputy police chief Pol Lt-General Amnart Anart-ngam, demanding a speedy and fair investigation into the blast on Friday.
Chumpol said the PDRC was happy to have police ensuring safety of protesters but they must be in uniform. 
Amnart, meanwhile, said the police were speeding the investigation to the best of their ability and expressed satisfaction that nothing untoward happened yesterday.
PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban led another march yesterday along Phetchaburi Road and Rama IV Road amid heavy security and many well-wishers along the way. Only journalists were allowed to be close to Suthep. 
Suthep said there was nothing he and the PDRC could have done to prevent what happened on Friday and guards were sent to Banthad Thong Road in advance, as they knew some buildings were not occupied.
“We have to go on with our fight because what we are doing is for our country,” Suthep told reporters, although he added the movement was on “full alert”.
Meanwhile, Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut accused the government of killing protesters and wanting to shutdown the Kingdom. He said the party would write a letter to the United Nations and other international organisations to complain about the matter, and the letters would probably be signed by party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
In a related development, Narathiwat police chief Pol Maj-General Pattanawut Angkhanawin insisted yesterday that a red cap that Bangkok police found along with weapons at an abandoned building following the Banthat Thong bombing against anti-government protesters did not belong to the Narathiwat police as claimed.
The cap, which carried the words “Assault Unit” in Thai, was shown on social media, which led to claims that it belonged to a police officer who had undergone assault unit training in Narathiwat. Pattanawut told a press conference the cap certainly wasn’t from local police because the province didn’t send any police to join the crowd control mission in Bangkok, officially or secretly. He said the cap also carried a different font and symbol from those used by Narathiwat police. 
He urged all sides not to bring police from the South into the political protest, as insurgents may want to use such claims to create disunity in the region.

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