Thailand: 5 Indicted in Yala Bomb Attacks

By BenarNews Staff
150622-TH-yala-620 Thai rescue workers spray water at the site of a fire started by a bomb explosion in Betong district, Yala province, July 25, 2014.

A court in Southern Thailand on Monday indicted five suspects in connection with a series of bombings that injured 18 people last month in restive Yala province, according to a Thai military official.

One of the suspects, Saidee Takuenae, was also connected to an April 10 bombing on the resort island of Koh Samui that hurt seven people, 41st Paramilitary Regiment commander Col. Isara Chantapayom told BenarNews.

“Saidee Takuenae was arrested on suspicion of having a hand in bomb attacks on Yala town during May 14-16, and he was found in connection with a theft of a car on March 31 that was later used in a car bombing at Koh Samui on April 10,” he said.

After the attack in Koh Samui, Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan said insurgents from Thailand’s Deep South region had not carried out the bombing. Yala is part of the Deep South, where a separatist insurgency has claimed more than 6,000 lives since 2004.

The other four suspects in the Yala case were identified as Abdulfahrid Sacoe, Sobree Kaso, Yazfrey Heyeeputa and Sukree Niloh.

Purely domestic

Despite the ongoing violence, there is no hard evidence of Muslim insurgents from the Deep South joining the Islamic State (IS) or other international terror networks, the U.S. State Department said in its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2014,” released Friday.

“While Thai officials have long expressed concern that transnational terrorist groups could establish links with southern Thailand-based separatist groups, there have been no indications that transnational terrorist groups were directly involved in the violence in the south, and there was no evidence of direct operational links between southern Thai insurgent groups and regional terrorist networks,” the report said.

Panithan Wattanayakorn, an advisor to the Thai Ministry of Defense, said the report contained a positive assessment of Thailand’s performance in combatting terrorism.

“They said our counterterrorism cooperation continued to be productive. That is good in general,” Panithan told BenarNews.

The State Department report, however, noted some weak spots.

Among them, it pointed to a flawed judicial system in which “most terrorism prosecutions fail to prove the necessary element of specific intent.” This has created a situation where such cases tend to result in deportations or convictions on less serious charges, according to the report.

Panithan acknowledged that the justice system could be improved, but he cited the recent acquittal of two suspects from the Deep South as an example of defendants receiving a fair trial.

“To date, the justice system as a means to solve the problems has improved in practice,” Panithan said, but admittedly added that it could have been better.

“While it looks good, it is not at the level we are looking for,” Panithan said.


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