November 24, 2015 / 7:24 AM / 2 years ago

Thai court indicts two men over deadly Bangkok bombing

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai military court has indicted two men accused of carrying out a Bangkok bomb attack that killed 20 people including 14 foreigners, making it the deadliest such incident in Thai history.

A suspect (C) of the August 17 Bangkok blast, who has been referred to both as Bilal Mohammed and Adem Karadag, the name on a Turkish passport he holds, is escorted by police officers during a crime re-enactment near the bomb site at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand, September 26, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Files

A lawyer for one of the men said a Bangkok military court brought ten charges against the pair on Tuesday, including premeditated murder, illegal possession of weapons and murder for the bombing in August.

“The court has accepted the ten charges that prosecutors formally brought against the two men,” said lawyer Schoochart Kanpai.

The two were named as Bilal Mohammad and Mierali Yusufu.

Documents sent by prosecutors to the court said both men were Chinese nationals from the Uighur minority.

The attack at the Erawan Shrine, a major landmark in the heart of Bangkok, injured more than 120 people.

Thai police have said that the blast was revenge for a crackdown on human trafficking. They ruled out any link to the repatriation of 109 Muslim Uighur people to China in July.

The Uighur are a Turkic-language speaking group that calls China’s western Xinjian region home. Some Turks see themselves as sharing cultural and religious bond with their Uighur “brothers”.

The Uighur issue is sensitive for the Thai government and any link between the bomb and the deportation of people at China’s behest could expose it to censure that its foreign policy led to the bomb attack.

Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, say they flee China’s Xinjiang region due to persecution. Beijing rejects that.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a daily news briefing said he hoped the trial would bring “the offenders to justice and allows them to receive due punishment.”

Mohammad and Yusufu have been held at an army base in Bangkok since their arrests in August and September.

The motive for the bombing remains unclear and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police have released arrest warrants for 17 people over charges stemming from the Bangkok attack but say many have fled abroad.

Schoochart said interpreters were being arranged for both suspects as they could not communicate with interpreters provided by police.

The charges were being translated from Thai into English, he said, and the men will formally hear the charges against them on Feb. 16.

Additional reporting by Panarat Thegumpanat in BANGKOK and Sui-lee Wee in BEIJING; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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