Thai hospital bomber jailed for 27 years

A Thai court sentenced 62-year-old Watana Pumret, a retired government employee, to 27 years in prison for planting a bomb at a Bangkok hospital that wounded 21 people.
A Thai court sentenced 62-year-old Watana Pumret, a retired government employee, to 27 years in prison for planting a bomb at a Bangkok hospital that wounded 21 people. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - A Thai court sentenced a 62-year-old man to 27 years in prison on Wednesday (Dec 6) for planting a bomb at a Bangkok hospital that wounded 21 people.

The explosion hit the Phramongkutklao Hospital in the Thai capital, Bangkok, in May on the third anniversary of a 2014 military coup. The hospital is popular with soldiers and their families and retired military officers.

Police arrested Watana Pumret, a retired government employee, after the blast and said he had confessed to the bombing because he despises the military.

"From the evidence, we believe the accused committed the offence... the accused confessed to it," a judge said.

Courts in Thailand often do not identify the names of judges, with the exception of some high-profile legal cases.

Watana was seen crying after the verdict. He hugged his wife and refused to answer reporters' questions, according to a reporter at the court.

Reuters was unable to contact Watana's lawyer after the verdict.

Thailand's military launched a coup in May 2014 after months of street protests that took a toll on South-east Asia's second-biggest economy. The military promised to unite the politically divided country and restore stability, but it has been accused by critics of not wanting to relinquish power.

The military government has promised to hold a general election in November 2018 to return Thailand to democracy, but senior government figures have said more time was needed to complete laws related to the vote.

The government has also cited security concerns as a reason for not lifting a ban on politics that has been in place since 2014, despite increasing pressure from groups of all political stripes to lift the ban.