By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA,
A KEY interpreter for two suspects in the Erawan Shrine bombing is now trying to defend himself against drug-related charges.
Sirojdolin Bakhodirov, an Uzbek who can speak English, Turkish and Uighur, is being held at a police station.
He has firmly denied he has been involved in drugs after police arrested him in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly having 0.8 gram of crystal methamphetamine and 7.2 grams of marijuana in his possession.
The arrest took place just hours after Bakhodirov told a court that four robust men forced him into a car and illegally held him against his will on May 18.
According to Khaosod Online, Bakhodirov informed a military tribunal on Wednesday that he was attacked and threatened by the four men on May 18, one day after both Uighur bomb suspects broke down outside the court in front of the press and insisted they were innocent. He said the men told him to stop “helping two Uighurs escape”.
The two bombing suspects are Bilal Mohammed, also known as Adem Karadag, and Yusufu Mieraili.
The blast that rocked the Erawan Shrine last year killed 20 people and injured more than 120 others.
Bilal’s lawyer Choochart Kanpai said yesterday that Bakhodirov was asking to be his client.
“As of now, we are waiting for the results of his urine test,” Choochart said.
Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the National Police Office, said yesterday that the results would come out in about a week.
“It takes some time because the Institute of Forensic Medicine has to handle many tasks,” he said.
Choochart recounted that he and Bakhodirov went to the court together on Wednesday morning about the threat the interpreter received.
“The court, in response, told investigators to provide safety to the interpreter,” he said, “but shortly after, he was arrested on drug charges.”
This lawyer said it would be difficult to seek bail for the interpreter because the Uzbek had overstayed his visa.
Choochart said Bakhodirov might be able to interpret for the two bomb suspects if he were granted temporary freedom.
He said that without Bakhodirov’s help, trials for the Erawan Shrine blast might have to be deferred.
“The next scheduled trial is on August 23. But it’s not easy to find an interpreter who can speak Turkish, Uighur and English,” he said.