Uncategorized Ex-Thai army chief calls for justice for Shinawatras

Ex-Thai army chief calls for justice for Shinawatras

General Chaisit Shinawatra (center)
General Chaisit Shinawatra (center)

(AA) – A former army chief and cousin of two ex-Thai prime ministers who have fallen foul of the country’s military junta has denied involvement in a Bangkok bomb attack, saying he will “fight in court to protect his reputation.”

Retired General Chaiyasit Shinawatra told reporters Monday that he was confident that he will be found innocent, and was fed up with being tarred through family affiliation.

“I am confident that the justice system in Thailand will give the Shinawatra family a place to stand, instead of trying to link all people bearing the Shinawatra name to all bad things without reason,” he said, according to the Bangkok Post.

The conference was hastily organized when information began to circulate that his name was mentioned by two suspects in the attack during police interrogation. 

“Don’t drag me into bad things. I am a real man and have already served the country as a soldier,” he said.

Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister from 2001 to 2006 before being unseated in a coup, while his sister Yingluck’s government was overthrown last year.

While Thaksin now lives in exile after being sentenced to two years in jail for abuse of power, Yingluck is currently on trial at the country’s criminal court, charged with dereliction of duty in relation to a loss-ridden rice subsidies scheme. In January, she was banned from political activities for five years by the country’s National Legislative Assembly.

On Monday, Chaiyasit attempted to clarify that he knew the girlfriend of one of the two men involved in a Saturday blast, recanting an earlier statement that he knew one of the two men.

On Saturday evening, two men on a motorbike launched a grenade into the parking lot of the Bangkok Criminal Court, provoking slight damages but injuring no one. They were arrested after exchanging fire with a team of soldiers in pursuit.

Police say that the two suspects — Yutthana Yenpinyo, 34, and Mahahin Khunthong, also 34 — have revealed who they were hired by, but the information has not been made public.

Warrant arrests have been delivered for three more suspects and police are now trying to see whether there is a link between Saturday’s blast and two small bomb explosions Feb. 1 at the entrance to Siam Paragon department store — one of the largest in Bangkok.

Junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suntaree said during an interview with Chulalongkorn University radio Monday that the statements given by the two suspects were “convincing.” 

“Authorities have to correlate the suspects’ statements with other witnesses and evidence before pressing charges against more people,” he said.

Chaiyasit was appointed army chief in 2003 — a gesture widely seen as nepotistic — but his performance was widely seen as lackluster and he became Supreme Commander, a mostly honorific position, in 2004. 

He was succeeded as army leader by General Prawit Wongsuwan, the current deputy-prime minister and minister of defense under the junta.

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