BANGKOK (AP) — Thai police said Friday they believe they have gathered enough evidence to prosecute the person they accuse of carrying out last month's bombing at a landmark in the Thai capital that killed 20 people.
Police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said in a late-night news conference that with evidence gathered from witnesses and surveillance cameras, the suspect can be charged in court. Prawut was referring to the first suspect arrested in the case several weeks ago, identified as Adem Karadag — also known as Bilal Turk — and believed to be from Turkey. He was arrested at an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok where police say bomb-making materials and a large quantity of fake passports were found. He is one of two suspects arrested so far in the case.
Prawut also appeared to confirm local media reports from this past week alleging that Karadag had confessed to planting the bomb at the Erawan Shrine on Aug. 17. Police have been seeking a man in a yellow shirt seen on video footage approaching the shrine and leaving after abandoning a backpack they say contained the bomb. Video footage leaked to the press this week — either newly discovered or analyzed — appeared to show how the suspect had changed his shirt after going to a nearby park, firming up identification of who he might be.
The police spokesman did not talk about the motive for the bombing ort who might be the mastermind. Thai officials have said the motive was revenge for Thai authorities having interfered in their smuggling business, though they have not detailed how. They insist the perpetrators are part of a criminal network, and did not have political motives.
There has been speculation that the attack might have been done to punish Thailand for forcibly repatriating more than 100 Uighurs to China in July. Uighurs say they are oppressed under Chinese rule, and a small and sometimes violent separatist movement is active. Uighurs are Muslims, and there were also fears that some Uighurs have allied themselves with international jihadist groups.
Prawut also announced that three more warrants had been issued in connection with the case, bringing the total to 17. The new warrants, for two men of undisclosed nationalities with Muslim-sounding names, and a Thai man, cover several serious charges, including conspiracy to kill and using a bomb to cause harm and damage property.