Thailand opens trial in Erawan shrine blast

Bangkok, Aug 23 (IANS) A Thai military court on Tuesday began the trial of two suspects arrested for planting a bomb in the Erawan shrine in the Bangkok that killed 20 persons and injured over a hundred.

The suspects identified as Mohamad Bilal and Yusufu Mieraili from China’s Xinjiang region, were charged with 10 crimes, including conspiracy, premeditated murder and possession of explosives, in November 2015, Efe news reported.

The two Uighur-Muslims denied any involvement in the attack, Thailand’s worst attack in years that took place on 17 August 2015, and also claimed that their confessions were forced.

Bilal, also known as Adem Karadag and from whose home the police had recovered fake passports and explosive material, has been accused of planting the bomb under a bench in Erawan temple, popular with Chinese tourists, at the centre of the shopping area.

Police believe that Mieraili, minutes later, had detonated the bomb.

Bilal said, in a statement released by his lawyer, that he was an illegal immigrant trying to reach Malaysia in search of work when the police raided the apartment where he was hiding.

The Thai police had said the attack was perpetrated by criminal groups in retaliation to a police campaign against human trafficking.

The investigation, full of irregularities and contradictory statements by the police and the military junta, had also fuelled various speculations about the motives, including the deportation of a 100 Uighurs to China a month before the attack, which is yet to be claimed.

–IANS

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