Thai court indicts two men over deadly Bangkok bombing

Bilal Mohammad (left) and Mierali Yusufu were accused of carrying out the Bangkok bomb attack.
Bilal Mohammad (left) and Mierali Yusufu were accused of carrying out the Bangkok bomb attack.PHOTO: EPA

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai military court has indicted two men accused of carrying out a Bangkok bomb attack that killed 20 people including a Singaporean, making it the deadliest such incident in Thai history.

A lawyer for one of the men said a Bangkok military court brought 10 charges against the pair on Tuesday (Nov 24), including premeditated murder, illegal possession of weapons and murder for the bombing in August.

"The court has accepted the 10 charges that prosecutors formally brought against the two men," said lawyer Schoochart Kanpai.

The two were named as Bilal Mohammad and Mierali Yusufu.

Documents sent by prosecutors to the court said both men were Chinese nationals from the Uighur minority.

The attack at the Erawan Shrine, a major landmark in the heart of Bangkok, killed 20 people, including seven Chinese, five Malaysians and one Singaporean, and injured more than 120 others.

Thai police have said that the blast was revenge for a crackdown on human trafficking. They ruled out any link to the repatriation of 109 Muslim Uighur people to China in July.

The Uighur are a Turkic-language speaking group that calls China's western Xinjian region home. Some Turks see themselves as sharing cultural and religious bond with their Uighur"brothers".

The Uighur issue is sensitive for the Thai government and any link between the bomb and the deportation of people at China's behest could expose it to censure that its foreign policy led to the bomb attack.

Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, say they flee China's Xinjiang region due to persecution. Beijing rejects that.

Mohammad and Yusufu have been held at an army base in Bangkok since their arrests in August and September.

The motive for the bombing remains unclear and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police have released arrest warrants for 17 people over charges stemming from the Bangkok attack but say many have fled abroad.

Schoochart said interpreters were being arranged for both suspects as they could not communicate with interpreters provided by police.

The charges were being translated from Thai into English, he said, and the men will formally hear the charges against them on Feb 16.