Redshirt Leader Denies Connection With Fatal Grenade Attacks

A suspect shows police how he allegedly fired a grenade at anti-government protesters, 15 July 2014.

BANGKOK — The leader of a Redshirt security unit has disputed an allegation that he was behind the deadly grenade attack on rival anti-government protesters in Bangkok earlier this year.

The police recently arrested four men in the connection with the 23 February attack, in which unknown assailants launched a grenade at the rally site of the anti-government People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) at Ratchaprasong Intersection.

The attack killed two children and one 59-year-old woman.

One of the arrested suspects, Chatchawan Prapbumrung, reportedly told police that he and the other suspects belonged to a militant unit allied to the Redshirt political group, the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). The UDD supported the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that was recently toppled in a military coup on 22 May. 

According to police, Mr. Chatchawan claimed during the interrogation that Arie Krainara, the leader of the UDD’s security unit, masterminded the group's operation and engineered many attacks on the PCAD protesters during their six-month campaign to oust Ms. Yingluck.

The remark was reported on a number of pro-PCAD newspapers, including Naew Na and Thai Post.

Yesterday, Mr. Arie and his lawyer met with the Crime Suppression Division to file a libel charge against Mr. Chatchawan over the accusation.

He also charged the newspapers that carried Mr. Chatchawan's allegation with violating the Computer Crime Act, which outlaws spreading false information on computer systems.

Mr. Arie told police that the accusation was false and that he never knew Mr. Chatchawan or any of the other suspects. 

"UDD lawyers have concluded that it is best to pursue legal action against the man who accused me and the news agencies that published the story, because it damages my reputation," Mr. Arie said. "I have to defend my rights and ask for fairness."

The police say Mr. Arie's case has been accepted.

A total of seven arrest warrants were issued in connection to the 23 February attack. Three more suspects remain at large, police say.

According to police reports, Mr. Chatchawan said  the group arrived at the bridge over Pratunam intersection in three separate vehicles. After parking their vehicles, one of the suspects reportedly lowered the window and fired a grenade at the protesters, after which the group quickly fled the scene.

The suspects have been charged with premeditated murder, causing explosions with intention to harm other people, carrying and using explosive devices without a permit, possessing firearms and ammunition without a permit, carrying weapons into residential areas without due cause, firing explosives in residential area without due cause, and violating the Internal Security Act, which was imposed over Bangkok at the time. 

Almost 30 people were killed in shootouts and grenade attacks on PCAD protest sites during the group’s campaign against the former government, which ended in a military coup on 22 May. 

A number of Redshirt activists have privately acknowledged that armed militants allied to the UDD were behind some of the  attacks, although the UDD has officially denied its involvement in any of the incidents. 

 

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