The armed "men in black", much mentioned during last year's political violence, are in the media limelight again after Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung yesterday claimed those men donned police uniforms during the day.
“I would like to reiterate here that they are policemen,” Chalerm said.
He went on to say that a group of policemen from the Northeast carried out the assassination of Army specialist Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdiphol.
Khattiya was fatally shot while giving an interview to the media at the red-shirt rally in the heart of Bangkok in May last year.
“I am following up on this case,” Chalerm said.
Earlier this month, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and party senior member Suthep Thaugsuban testified to police about the deaths of 16 people who were killed during the unrest last year.
Back then, Abhisit was the prime minister and Suthep the deputy PM in charge of security affairs. Suthep at the time was also serving as the director of the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES).
Khattiya was among the 16 victims.
Chalerm said he was speaking up now because he wanted to deter some groups from wreaking more havoc on the country.
“Please stop,” he warned. “I am trying to catch you because you are trying to do a bad thing.” He added that the mastermind behind these groups was now suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Asked whether he had evidence to back up his claim, Chalerm said: “If I weren’t ready, I wouldn’t say it.”
He said one man in black was also seen riding a Harley-Davidson for a senior figure in the Government House compound last year. “He was once a police sub-lieutenant in Buri Ram. He’s now a ranking general,” Chalerm continued.
The deputy prime minister suggested that the police group that he claimed used to serve as men in black was involved in the recent bomb-planting incident in front of the Government Lottery Office.
That incident did not cause any casualties.
According to Chalerm, this group of policemen joined with some politicians, some of whom have since lost power, and “regular movement” groups in staging the incident.
Pheu Thai MP Pracha Prasopdee said he knew the initials of the person with Parkinson’s disease Chalerm talked about.
“I once received a complaint that this man also encroached on a public area of a housing estate,” he said.
Pracha blamed the man and his accomplices for trying to undermine the current government.
“They are afraid that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will return to Thailand,” he said.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut urged Chalerm to stop influencing police investigations by giving public comments on cases.
“I also wonder if he has personally hired detectives, because he seems to know everything,” he said.