Bangkok blast: Prime suspect was promised opportunity to go to Turkey if he planted bomb

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A prime suspect in the bomb attack on Bangkok's Erawan Shrine has told his lawyer that he was promised an opportunity to travel to Turkey if he planted the bomb as near to the crowded religious site as possible.

Bilal Mohammed, previously identified as Adem Karadag, spoke to his lawyer Chuchart Kanphai in English yesterday.

"Bilal is aware that his alleged crime carries a heavy penalty and hopes his confession will entitle him to leniency," Mr Chuchart said after visiting his client at a temporary prison inside a military base.

Mr Chuchart said Bilal has reiterated that he is an Uighur but has refused to specify his hometown in China out of concern his relatives and friends may be affected.

"His family is in Turkey. So, he wanted to go to Turkey too," Mr Chuchart said.

He said Bilal stood by his previous statement that he did not know any other suspects wanted in the case except Abdullah Abdullahman, who allegedly told him to plant the bag containing the explosives and provided him with a wig in a bid to disguise himself.

"Bilal received the order (to carry out the attack) from Abdullah on Aug 16," he said. "Abdullah had promised to help him travel to Malaysia and further to Turkey after he carried out his order."

Mr Chuchart said Bilal did not know the extent of the destruction his action had caused because he did not have access to TV.

"When I showed him the pictures of the attack, he appeared crestfallen and feels guilty," the lawyer said.

Mr Chuchart said he planned to visit Bilal again in two weeks. Bilal and Mieraili Yusufu are the only suspects in detention in Thailand. Several other suspects remain on the run.

Police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said the investigation report for the prosecution of Bilal and Mieraili should be concluded within 24 days.

Lieutenant-General Prawut disclosed that police will ask the Foreign Ministry to invite officials from the Turkish embassy to discuss the case.

"For instance, we have to check passports involved in the case and locate where (suspects) Wanna Suansan and Emrah Davutoglu are," he said.

Emrah is a Turkish national married to Wanna, a Thai.

The attack took place on Aug 17, killing 20 people and injuring more than 100 others.

The following day, another blast near the Sathorn pier did not cause any casualties. Ongoing investigations suggest the two blasts were related.

A Turkish man was intercepted at the Nong Khai immigration checkpoint yesterday because he looks like a man wanted in the bombings.

The 37-year-old denied any wrongdoing. He said he had lived with his family in Khon Kaen.

The authorities are investigating.

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