Police Charge 'Tortured' Activist With Gunrunning

Kritsuda Kunasen, 26, after she was released from a 27-day military detention on 24 June 2014.

BANGKOK — Police have accused a Redshirt activist who claims she was tortured during her time in military detention with providing weapons to underground Redshirt militants prior to the military coup.

Kritsuda Kunasen, 26, fled to Europe after the military held her incommunicado for 27 days in an unidentified army barrack, exceeding the seven-day limit on arbitrary detention that was widely applied to other detained activists. Ms. Kritsuda claimed last week that military officers intimidated and abused her while she was in detention and then later forced her to lie about her experience in exchange for a safe release.

The activist has also reportedly applied for asylum in Europe, citing fears for her life. The military junta has contested her account, insisting that Ms. Kritsuda was well-treated during her detention.

Yesterday, police announced that Ms. Kritsuda has been charged with possessing military-grade firearms and ammunition without permission, a charge that permits authorities to request her extradition.

According to deputy chief of Royal Thai Police Somyot Pumpanmuang, Ms. Kritsuda was responsible for purchasing weapons and distributing them to underground Redshirt militants who allegedly staged attacks on rival, anti-government protesters earlier this year.

Almost 30 people were killed in shootouts and grenade attacks on anti-government protest sites during the campaign against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, which ended in a military coup on 22 May.

"We have evidence, in documents, that point to the purchases of these weapons," Pol.Gen. Somyot said at the press conference yesterday. "We also have witnesses, the suspects who have been arrested, who say they received many military-grade weapons from Ms. Kritsuda."

Pol.Gen. Somyot said the court has already issued arrest warrants on Ms. Kritsuda and two of her accomplices. 

He added that police will apply for the extradition of Ms. Kritsuda, although they have not yet identified in which country she is currently residing. 

Ms. Kritsuda was first arrested on 28 May in Chonburi province. The activist was eventually released on 24 June, a day after the state-owned Channel 5 TV broadcast an interview with Ms. Kritsuda, in which she claimed she was "happier than words can say." Ms. Kritsuda later said she was coerced by an army spokesperson to lie on camera. 

 

 

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