Thai Junta Holding 10 to 15 People For "Cooling Off"

BANGKOK (DPA) — Thailand's junta is currently holding between 10 and 15 people of the 300 summoned since the May 22 coup, a military spokesman said late Wednesday.

"At the moment there are 10-plus people remaining in army accommodation, less than 15," said Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak, spokesman for the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The majority of the more than 300 politicians, activists, academics and journalists summoned for "talks" have been released, Werachon told an audience at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.

The detentions, often in undisclosed locations with no access allowed to relatives, have sparked criticisms from human rights groups.    

The NCPO spokesman said those held were provided with air-conditioned rooms, good food and entertainment.

"We talk to them," Werachon said. "We try to tell them to put the country before their own interests. We prefer to call it a cooling-off period than detention."

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he staged the coup to put an end to mounting violence accompanying nearly seven months of street protests in Bangkok and a resulting political deadlock.

Thailand has been under martial law since May 20, allowing authorities to detain people for up to seven days without charges.

Among the people summoned by the junta was former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whom the army said was never formally detained.

"Yingluck was invited for a conversation and then was allowed to go home on the same day," Werachon said.