By Chularat Saengpassa,
THE PRIME suspect in the Erawan Shrine bombing case might have acted emotionally before cameras only to attract attention from media and human-rights organisations, the acting chief of the Corrections Department suggested yesterday.
Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Kobkiat Kasivivat, in his capacity as the department’s acting director-general, firmly insisted that there was no physical torture against the Uighur suspect at a detention centre inside a Bangkok military base.
Bilal Mohammed, also known as Adem Karadag, on Tuesday shouted out, “I’m not an animal,” as two guards led him into a military court for a trial related to the deadly bomb blast.
The other suspect in detention, Yusufu Mieraili, said, “We’re innocent. Help us, help us. Where are the human rights?” as he arrived at the court the same day.
Both suspects have pleaded innocence in court. The bomb blast at the Erawan Shrine killed 20 victims and injured 120 others last year.
During Tuesday’s trial, Bilal also told the court that he was physically attacked inside the detention centre twice in one month.
Kobkiat yesterday said the Corrections Department had already dispatched Dr Weerakit Harnpariphan, who heads the department’s medical facilities, to check on Bilal and no signs of physical abuse were visible.
He added that after Bilal was brought back to the detention centre, he hugged the warden Boonyarak Boonyathikarn and offered an apology.
“So, we believe he might have made the scenes on Tuesday just to attract attention,” he said.
Kobkiat said Bilal did try to demand attention at the detention centre too, sometimes by refusing to eat and sometimes by pummelling the wall with bare fists.
According to him, Bilal is provided Halal food in accordance with his religious beliefs. His cell is two metres wide and three metres long, and includes a toilet. Every day, he has one hour outside the cell for exercise or a stroll. His lawyer can visit him.
Bilal’s lawyer Choochart Kanphai yesterday dismissed reports that he had advised Bilal into staging the emotional scenes and raising the allegations.
“No, I arrived at the court after he did,” the lawyer said.
He also pointed out that he had not met Bilal since January when the two met inside the courtroom.
“Back in January, he did not talk about any physical abuse,” he added.
The lawyer said that when Bilal removed his shirt in the court to back his claim of physical torture, he noticed some bruises around his shoulders.
National Human Rights Commission’s chairman Wat Tingsamit yesterday disclosed that his agency would likely consider the alleged physical abuses at the meeting next Monday.
“We will investigate because attacks on suspects facing proceedings by either civilian or military courts are not allowed,” he said.
Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan firmly denied that any physical abuse had taken place.
Kobkiat said lawyers and representatives of human-rights organisations could visit Bilal, if they wanted to. According to Choochart, Bilal wants to be transferred to another detention facility and the request for transfer was submitted on May 3.