Top suspect changed travel itinerary on his way to Istanbul, Prawut says; uncertaintly over trio arrested in Malaysi
POLICE will seek cooperation from their Turkish counterparts over reports the alleged mastermind, who fled to Bangladesh a day before the bomb blast in Bangkok on August 17, had sneaked into Turkey.
Police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thavornsiri said intelligence reports indicated that Abu Dustar Abdulrahman, or “Izan”, a Chinese national, had covered up his escape route by changing his itinerary to Istanbul.
An earlier report mentioned that Abudustar had left Bangkok on August 16 for Dhaka where he stayed for about two weeks. A senior Bangladeshi police officer had said that Abudustar boarded a Jet Airways flight to China on August 30.
However, Prawut said yesterday that the suspect had actually left Dhaka for New Delhi before heading for Abu Dhabi and then to Turkey.
The spokesman said the suspect landed in Istanbul on August 31. “He changed the route to cover up his movements. So we will contact the Turkish Embassy in Bangkok about the reports.”
Abudustar is accused of being behind the deadly bomb at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20, plus the bomb at Sathorn Pier, which injured nobody.
Meanwhile, police are waiting for Malaysia to confirm officially whether its arrest of three suspects has any link to the two bomb blasts.
“To date, we only know that these suspects are part of a human smuggling gang and that the bombers might have sneaked into Thailand with the help of the gang,” Prawut said.
He said Thai authorities would have to wait until investigations by the Malaysian police concluded.
Prawut was responding to reports by Malaysia’s The Star that said two Malaysians and a Pakistani had been detained by Malaysian police to assist investigations into the blasts. It quoted Police Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar as saying that the suspects were detained a few days ago.
“We are helping Thai police with the probe. We feel these three can assist us in the investigation,” he told a press conference after attending the International Meeting on Global Piracy, Armed Robbery and Maritime Security yesterday.
“We feel there is no need at present to hand them over to Thai authorities,” he said. “We are working with our Thai counterparts. Let us investigate the matter first,” he said.
But in Bangkok, national police chief Pol General Somyot Poompanmuang yesterday dismissed reports that his deputy Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda had gone to Malaysia to pick up suspects.
To date, Thai authorities have detained two suspects in connection to the blasts and issued arrest warrants for 12 others.
Corrections Department officials and soldiers yesterday transferred the two bomb suspects, Mieraili Yusufu and Adem Karadag, from the Min Buri Court to the 11th Military Circle’s Infantry Battalion. The transfer took place amid tight security.
Chuchart Kanphai, a lawyer for Karadag, yesterday disclosed that he had insisted that he entered Thailand on August 24 and was brought to an apartment in Bangkok’s Nong Chok area by an agent known as Adbullah Abdulrahman.
A few days later, Karadag was arrested at the apartment where officials had also found bomb-making materials.
“He has said he is a Turkish. He has confessed to illegal entry and claimed he simply wished to head further for a job as a driver in Malaysia,” Chuchart said. “He has said he is not involved in the bomb plot.”
He added that Karadag talked about preparing US$4,000 (Bt144,000) for a chance to get the job in Malaysia and $1,200 of that was spent on a fake passport.
Some reports suggest that Abdulrahman is Izan.
Metropolitan Police chief Pol Lt General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said yesterday the Army was interrogating three women arrested over the weekend to determine if they were linked to the bomb attacks.
Somyot said police believe the bombs resulted from the recent crackdown on human-traffickers.