Red guard fugitive Surachai nabbed on terrorism charges

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fri, Jul 16, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network

Surachai reportedly has admitted being with others who launched M79 grenades at a police flat on May 15, and attacked a police checkpoint near Lumpini Park with rifle fire, causing two deaths, on May 8.

Surachai, who was on the Department of Special Investigation's (DSI) "most wanted" list, was captured in a hotel room in Lop Buri's Muang district during a morning raid led by Pol MajGeneral Thanapol Sonthes, commander of the Special Patrol and Operations Division, or 191 police.

Thanapol said Surachai was wanted on three warrants on charges of terrorism, violating the emergency decree and bodily assault. Police knew Surachai had fled to Cambodia after May 19, but returned to Thailand on June 26 and had been hiding in the North, Northeast, and the East regions before moving to the Lop Buri hotel where he was captured, he said.

Pol Colonel Panurat Lakboon, deputy commander of the 191 police, said the initial investigation revealed Surachai, who had been involved in many violent incidents in Bangkok, was efficient in using weapons and welltrained. After questioning, police would hand Surachai over to the DSI, he said.

Surachai reportedly told police he was a close aide to MajGeneral Khattiya for many years and served as a trainer in the "King Taksin warriors" for eight years.

He also reportedly admitted he was one of the "men in black" who launched M79 grenades at a Lumpini police flat on May 15 and that he fired an M16 rifle at a security checkpoint at the Saladaeng intersection on May 8, when two officers were killed.

MajGeneral Khattiya planned and commanded every attack, Surachai said, but he declined to say how many people were involved. Surachai also reportedly said MajGeneral Khattiya took him and other "men in black" to undergo weapons and tactical training in Taiwan, Panurat said.

An informed source reported that, after Surachai returned to Thailand on June 26, he reunited with former subordinates of MajGeneral Khattiya. He contacted his wife, saying he was staying in a Lop Buri hotel and would send her some money after completing an important mission.

The source said the mission was believed to be related to the July 12 assassination of Nakhon Sawan provincial administrative organisation president, Amnat Sirichai.

In addition, police would also look into an alleged plot to assassinate Thailand's key person with assistance from Lop Buri local politicians, the source reported.

At DSI headquarters, directorgeneral Tharit Pengdit said yesterday deputy national police chief General Panupong Singhara na Ayutthaya had contacted him about handing over Surachai to the agency. Warrants had been issued against Surachai alleging involvement in the M79 grenade to attacks on the BTS station in Saladaeng and the police checkpoint near Lumpini Park. Police and DSI officials would interrogate him further on these matters.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Maj General Sumet Ruangsawat, said the police investigation into the Amnat Sirichai assassination was ongoing and, if evidence was found implicating Surachai, he would be charged accordingly. But for now it would be best to let the investigation run before commenting.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday he had received the report about Surachai's arrest and would wait on the DSI investigation results.

He affirmed there was no scapegoat capturing in the case and the authority already had details of several operations carried out during the redshirt rally.


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