BANGKOK — The Royal Thai Police commander today dismissed an alleged confession by a suspect already in custody that he was the bomber behind the attack that killed 20 people in Bangkok last month.
Citing unnamed police sources, several Thai media agencies reported last night that the man police call Adem Karadag, who was detained during a raid on an apartment in Nong Chok district on 29 Aug., had confessed to interrogators that he was not only part of the group responsible for the bombing of the Erawan Shrine on 17 Aug. but the bomber himself.
But police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang played down Karadag’s reported confession, saying the man had been giving contradictory testimony to police since he was arrested.
“Police are not yet convinced. I don’t want you to conclude that this news is correct until there is evidence that matches [his confession], because since Mr. Adem was arrested, in each interrogation, Mr. Adem has changed his testimony,” Police Gen. Somyot said today.
A fake Turkish passport found in the possession of a man who claims to be Mohammed Bilaturk, a naturalized Turkish citizen originally from Xinjiang, China.
Karadag, who reportedly has said he is a naturalized Turkish national originally from Xinjiang, China, named Mohammed Bilaturk, has previously denied through his lawyer any involvement in the attack and said he was not even in Thailand at the time.
His lawyer, Chuchart Kanpai, said last week his client entered Thailand on 24 Aug. en route to Malaysia where he hoped to find work. He said a human smuggler facilitating his journey from Turkey ordered him to stay in an apartment room where police discovered him five days later.
Authorities have yet to indicate what day he entered Thailand.
As for the reported confession, Somyot told reporters that police would require much more than a verbal confession to make the case that Karadag is indeed the most wanted man in Southeast Asia, such as a clear timeline of the bomber’s movements and forensic evidence.
“Today, I don’t dare conclude that Mr. Adem is the yellow-shirted man, because one day Mr. Adem said one thing, another day he said another thing,” Somyot said. “If I concluded that he is, and the media reported my words, and if Mr. Adem changed his testimony again, both I and the media would be damaged.”
Chuchart said today he was unaware his client made any confession as reported by the media.
“I insist that he has always denied that he was the yellow-shirted bomber,” Chuchart said, adding that he did not see Karadag yesterday – when he reportedly made the confession – because the suspect was seeing a doctor at the prison because he was ill.
Chuchart added that he will next see Karadag on Monday.
Police have said Karadag was arrested along with a large cache of bomb-making materials in an apartment room in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district. He was then interrogated without a lawyer present at an army base in Bangkok for a week before being handed over to the police and formally charged.
He is being held at the 11th Army District headquarters – which has been converted into a “special prison” by the military – along with several other suspects including Chinese national Yusufu Mieraili.
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