Police arrest suspect and seize bomb-making material in first arrest since attack on August 17.
Thai police has said an investigation revealed that the first arrested suspect, Adem Karadag, was indeed the bomber in last month’s deadly attack in Bangkok, contradicting earlier statements.
National police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said on Saturday that the foreigner is the man in the yellow shirt seen on CCTV footage placing a rucksack at the shrine moments before the August 17 blast , which left 20 dead.
“It is confirmed that Adem is the man in the yellow shirt based on CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts and his own confession,” Prawut said.
“After he placed the bomb at the shrine he called a motorbike taxi and changed his shirt at a restroom in [nearby] Lumpini Park.”
The suspect faces up to eight charges including premeditated murder, Prawut said.
Chuchart Kanphai, Karadag’s lawyer who said his client’s real name is Bilal Mohammed, said Karadag maintained he was innocent and had last visited him on September 15.
“The appearance of the yellow shirt man [in CCTV footage] and Adem do not match. I don’t believe Adem would confess,” he said.
Meanwhile, another man, Yusufu Mieraili, remained in custody as police said without providing evidence that he used a mobile phone to trigger the bomb.
Authorities had earlier said it was unlikely that either of the two men detained were the bomber. Police also said earlier that they believed Mieraili conspired in the attack but did not detonate the bomb.
Somyot Poompanmoung, the Thai police chief, blamed the blast on a gang of people-smugglers motivated by revenge for a crackdown on their lucrative trade including the transfer of Uighurs.
That motive has been widely dismissed by security experts who instead have pointed to Thailand’s forced deportation of 109 Uighurs to China in July, a move that ignited anger in Turkey where nationalist hardliners see the minority as part of a global Turkic-speaking family.
Mostly Muslim Uighurs have long accused Beijing of religious and cultural repression in China’s far western Xinjiang region, with hundreds of refugees believed to have fled in recent years, often heading to Turkey via Southeast Asia.
Thai police arrested Karadag in a flat on the outskirts of Bangkok late last month saying he was in possession of bomb-making equipment and dozens of fake Turkish passports.
Mieraili was seized with a Chinese passport that police believe is real. It notes Xinjiang as his birthplace.
Karadag’s lawyer, Kanphai, has previously said his client was born in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, but moved to Turkey in 2004 where he received Turkish nationality and found work as a truck driver with his brother.