BANGKOK — Police have made the first arrests in connection with the physical assault on activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat – but it wasn’t the attackers who were detained.
Instead, the arrested were eight Facebookers accused of spreading false reports on social media that the police were behind the attack on June 28 that left pro-democracy campaigner Sirawith in critical condition. All of the suspects were charged with cybercrimes, the police said.
In a report on the police’s official news-site, police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said the eight confessed to claiming on Facebook that deputy police commissioner Chaiwat Ketworachai sent four men under his command to attack Sirawith.
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Col. Krissana said the rumor was baseless, and added that Gen. Chaiwat does not understand why he was slandered by such allegations.
The suspects were charged with violating the Computer Crime Act, which outlaws the dissemination of false information on computer systems. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
No perpetrators have been arrested for the June 28 attack, despite security camera footage of the assailants released by opposition politicians.
Krissana, the police spokesman, said up to 20 eyewitnesses have been questioned and security cameras in the area inspected. However, some cameras were out of service and failed to capture the assailants’ flight from the scene, Krissana said.
“I’d like to tell [Sirawith] and society that the police are investigating the case to the best of our ability,” the spokesman said.
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