Bombing suspects deny charges

Adem Karadag (in front) and Yusufu Mieraili denied they were involved in last year's deadly Bangkok shrine bombing.
Adem Karadag (in front) and Yusufu Mieraili denied they were involved in last year's deadly Bangkok shrine bombing.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • One of two ethnic Uighur Muslims from China accused of involvement in a deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine last year broke down in front of cameras yesterday as he made his way into court.

"I'm not an animal," the shaven, shackled and barefoot Adem Karadag told a crowd of waiting reporters as two guards led him into a military court in Bangkok's old town. "I'm human, I'm human."

Karadag and fellow suspect Yusufu Mieraili, who were in court for a review of witnesses, have denied all the charges against them.

"We're innocent, help us, help us, where are the human rights?" said Mieraili, as he emerged from a police car outside the court.

The drama continued in the courtroom where a sobbing Karadag spoke through a Uighur translator to accuse his Thai captors of beating him and denying him halal food. "I cannot eat, I am laughed at when I pray," he added.

The tearful Karadag lifted his shirt, pointed to bruises and said through an interpreter that he had been beaten twice this month in custody, a Reuters witness said.

The judge said he would investigate and would consider a request by Karadag's lawyer for a transfer.

Karadag's lawyer, Mr Schoochart Kanpai, said his client had been tortured into confessing. Lawyers said more than 250 witnesses could be called for the prosecution and defence.

Mr Kanpai said he hoped the trial would be over by the end of 2016, but that it could drag on a year longer.

Twenty people were killed and more than 120 injured in the bombing on Aug 17 at the Erawan Shrine, thronged by visitors to the Thai capital. Five of those who died were from China and two from Hong Kong.

Police say Karadag was caught on security camera footage at the shrine, sitting on a bench and slipping off a bulky backpack before walking away, just before the blast.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Bombing suspects deny charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe