Bangkok bomb suspect tortured to confess his role says lawyer

Lawyer claims ethnic Uighur man arrested in relation with Bangkok bombing was tortured into confessing role in incident

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Bangkok blast suspect, variously referred to as Bilal Mohammed and Adem Karadag, escorted by police to the bomb site.

Updated Feb 16, 2016

An ethnic Uighur man arrested in Thailand over a bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok last year denied his involvement in the attack as well as charges of murder on Monday, retracting an earlier confession that his lawyer said that he was tortured into making.

The lawyer said that his client, Adem Karadag, also known as Bilal Mohammed, was coerced into confessing that he took part in the attack.

"At the time he was tortured and under pressure. That is why he confessed to the charges against him," lawyer Schoochart Kanpai told reporters after visiting Karadag in detention.

"He still maintains he has no involvement in this. The only charge he accepts is illegal entry," Kanpai added.

Karadag is due to appear at a military court on Tuesday, along with a second suspect Yusufu Mieraili, to formally hear the charges. Police stated that both men had confessed to involving in the Aug. 17 bombing.

The lawyer did not say whether the second suspect, Mieraili, would also deny the charges against him on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the junta, Winthai Suvaree, expressed his doubt that the two suspects had been tortured while in military custody.

"I am fairly certain nothing happened to the suspects while they were in military custody," Suvaree said.

In November, the two suspects had first been charged by a military court, but neither had accepted or denied the charges because of interpretation issues at that hearing, the lawyer said. They were indicted on 10 charges, including murder and illegal possession of explosives, but not terrorism.

Suspects of the Bangkok blast, Yusufu Mieraili and Adem Karadag (also known as Bilal Mohammed), are escorted by soldiers and prison officers as they leave the military court in Bangkok, Thailand on November 24, 2015. (Reuters)

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which Thai authorities said was in retaliation for a crackdown on human smuggling gangs and not a terrorist attack.

However, some security experts said that the bomb was in retaliation for Thailand's forced repatriation of more than 100 Uighurs to China in July, rather than in response to a crackdown on human smuggling gangs.

The lawyer added that police had been issued arrest warrants for 17 people in connection with the attack, fifteen of those wanted are still at large.

China has long faced criticism for the perceived harsh restrictions it places on religion and culture in Xingjiang, where the majority of Uighurs live.

The Bangkok explosion resulted in the death of 20 people and injured 130, near the Erwan shrine in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Aug. 17. The Erwan shrine is a popular destination for tourists and visitors.

Most of the victims were foreign tourists, raising concerns that the country's lucrative tourist industry could suffer.

According to the Government House, Thailand lost around 1.33 million tourists after the blast.

The suspect, later identified as Adem Karadag, was arrested on Aug. 29, after police raided his apartment.

Initially he was alleged to be Turkish, but the allegation was later proven to be false, as the suspect was carrying a fake Turkish passport.

TRTWorld and agencies