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Probe into students' 'backers'

Jun 28. 2015
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By The Nation

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Police investigating 'figures' behind students; businessman seen at same police station denies being their puppetmaster

Police are preparing to arrest suspects the authorities believe have steered the anti-coup movement from behind the scenes. 

Evidence, including information from cellphones used by 14 detained anti-coup students, implicates these figures, Metropolitan Police Chief Lt-General Sriwara Rangsipramkul said yesterday.
“Available evidence suggests 
possible links,” Sriwara said. “We believe there will be more arrests pretty soon.” 
He said police had found important evidence that could link people involved in the anti-coup movement but did not elaborate. Discovery of the evidence followed the arrest of the students on Friday. 
Acting on a tip-off, police, armed with search warrants, inspected a vehicle with a Yasothon licence plate number parked next to the Bangkok Military Court. 
They found and seized five mobile phones believed to belong to the arrested students. The vehicle belongs to Sirikan Charoensiri, 29, who claimed to be the students’ lawyer.
Police are considering whether to charge Sirikan.
Lawyer Yaowalak Anuphan yesterday confirmed that police had examined the cellphones of the students after taking them from Sirikan early Saturday. Yaowalak said she had talked to the students and all had no intention to requesting bail. 
“They just want to be tried in a civilian court, not a military court,” she said. 
She added that the students described themselves as political prisoners and they hoped the junta would release all political prisoners, not just them. 
A number of people have posted messages of moral support for the students at Thammasat University.
A prominent business executive yesterday denied being involved with the students’ group, the Neo Democracy Movement (NDM), which defied a government order by staging several protests against the military rule. 
Thanathorn Juangroong-ruangkit wrote on his Facebook page that he had never been involved with NDM
He said he was at Pathumwan Police Station last Wednesday, the day the students gathered in front of the station to file complaints against police for alleged abuse of power in their “heavy-handed” arrest for protesting on the anniversary of the coup. 
“I was there not because I’m the puppet master of them [the students] as accused but because I’m a citizen who has every right to think and believe differently. I want to give them what they needed most: encouragement and mental support,” he wrote.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu KreaNgam countered allegations that the ban on political rallies violated the 2014 provisional charter.
Wissanu said in a democratic system people had the freedom to rally but Article 5 of the charter stated: “Where no provision of this Constitution is applicable to any case, the case shall be dealt with or decided in line with the customary practices of the government of Thailand.”
“Customary practices in-
clude previous charters that include martial laws that limit 
the public’s freedom and rights. Thus, the National Council for Peace and Order orders issued under martial law are regarded 
as legitimate,’’ Wissanu said.
PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said the government and other sectors believed the pro-democracy students staged their campaign with honest intent but were not so sure about the intent of their supporters. 
He said the students staged the protest on their own but later there were supporters such as academics and others who backed them.
“We have to look further into the details regarding the question over whether the supporters did it with honest intent or with ulterior motives. People in the political circle know what is what,’’ he said.
Deputy Government spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd warned the public to consume information with judgement and listen to the reasons off all sides so the country could overcome the current political problem.

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