Foodpanda rider denies lese majeste over burning of royal portrait
A foodpanda delivery rider on Tuesday denied charges of burning royal portrait during an anti-government protest on Sunday, claiming he was attempting to put out the flames.
Pathum Thani police on Monday arrested Sitthichoke Setsawet and charged him with lese majeste, arson, and breaching the Covid-19 emergency decree against public gatherings.
The suspect was interrogated at Nang Loeng Police Station where he admitted to participating in the protest but denied setting fire to the royal portrait, said Deputy Metropolitan Police chief Piya Tawichai.
"However, police have evidence that proves the suspect burned a royal picture," he said, adding that Sitthichoke will be detained at the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road.
He also revealed that police officers were interrogating the 16 protesters arrested earlier for their role in Sunday’s rally.
"Investigating officers are collecting evidence to issue arrest warrants on other protesters who allegedly took part in the anti-government protest on Sunday," he added.
Police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at protesters who tried to break through a barrier guarding Government House. The protesters were demanding the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government, cuts to the military and monarchy’s budget during the pandemic, and importation of mRNA vaccines to fight the surge in Covid-19 infections.
Meanwhile, Sitthichoke's girlfriend testified that he was attempting to put out the flames on the royal portrait.
She added that he was at the protest site on Sunday to deliver food to protesters.
She also asked social media users to stop condemning her boyfriend by sharing fake information.