Thai military court charges Bangkok blast suspects | Thailand News | Al Jazeera

Thai military court charges Bangkok blast suspects

Two men face 10 charges in connection with the August 17 bombing at Erawan Shrine that killed 20 people.

    A military court in Thailand has charged two men with carrying out a deadly August bombing at a Bangkok shrine that left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured.

    The two, identified as Bilal Mohammad and Yusufu Mieraili, faced 10 charges on Tuesday in connection with the August 17 blast at Erawan Shrine.

    Bilal was initially identified as Adem Karadag, which was the name on a fake Turkish passport in his possession when he was arrested on August 29.

    He was arrested at one of two apartments police raided on the outskirts of Bangkok.

    The charges included conspiracy to explode bombs and commit premeditated murder, Chuchart Kanpai, the defence lawyer, said.

    Both men have been described by officials as ethnic Uighurs from western China's Xinjiang region.

    The charges against the suspects included conspiracy to explode bombs and commit premeditated murder [The Associated Press]

    Officials said the blast was carried out by a people-smuggling gang seeking revenge on Thai authorities for cracking down on their operation.

    Thai officials said there was no political or religious motive behind the attack.

    No mention of 'terrorism'

    Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said there was no mention of "terrorism" in those charges.

    "They have been very keen to avoid using the word terrorism" because of concern it could affect the country's tourism and foreign investments, he said.

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

    Bangkok police: bomber did not act alone

    They are being tried at a military court, where cases of national security have been handled since the army seized power in a coup last May.

    That raises "a lot of question marks about the process", our correspondent said, adding that access have been "very limited" although defence lawyers can go and visit.

    He also reported that there have been speculations that the attackers were trying to take revenge against Thailand for sending China's minority Muslim Uighurs back to the country.

    Some of the 15 other suspects are Turks, with whom Uighurs share ethnic bonds, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.

    China has also accused some Uighurs of being involved in committing violence in the country.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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