BANGKOK – Thai officials on Wednesday (May 18) denied that one of two ethnic Uighur Muslims from China accused of involvement in a deadly bombing in Thailand last year was beaten and tortured while in custody.
On May 17, 2016, in front of media cameras at the Bangkok military court, Adem alleged that Thai authorities had tortured him in jail, and lifted up his shirt, exposing bruises on his body. Since his arrest on August 29, 2015, Adem has been held in a detention facility at Bangkokâ€™s 11th Army Circle military base.
A medical examination on Wednesday found no evidence of mistreatment, said Mr Kobkiat Kasivivat, deputy permanent secretary for the Justice Ministry.
A transfer request submitted by Karadag’s lawyers would be considered, Mr Kobkiat said.
Twenty people were killed and more than 120 wounded in the bombing on Aug 17 last year at a Hindu shrine and tourist attraction in Bangkok. Five of the dead were from mainland China.
The police have arrested two suspects, Yusufu Mieraili and Karadag, and have issued arrest warrants for 15 others, eight of whom are thought to be either Turkish or in Turkey, according to warrants and police statements.
Karadag and Mieraili have denied all charges against them.
Karadag and Mieraili are being held at a correction facility in Bangkok’s 11th Army Circle base where two suspects died while in detention last year.
The facility is for those the government deem a security threat.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who is also defence minister, said Karadag had not been mistreated.
“It’s not true,” Mr Prawit said. “He probably made up the story.”
Police say Karadag was caught on CCTV footage at the shrine, sitting on a bench and slipping off a bulky backpack before walking away, just before the blast.
Since Thailandâ€™s military coup in May 2014, many individuals taken into military custody have alleged being tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Methods of torture alleged include beatings, electric shocks, and near suffocation.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta has summarily dismissed allegations that the military or other security forces have tortured and ill-treated detainees â€“ but have failed to conduct serious and credible inquiries into these allegations. Besides denying the allegations, the authorities have frequently accused those making allegations of making false statements with the intent of damaging Thailandâ€™s reputation. For example, Thai authorities threatened a prominent human rights lawyer, Chuchart Kanpai, who represents Adem, with defamation charges for reporting to the media that his client was tortured by the army into confessing to the bomb attack.
Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited under international treaties and customary international law. Thailand is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which specifically places an obligation on governments to investigate and prosecute acts of torture and other ill-treatment. Under the convention, any statement made as a result of torture â€œshall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.â€
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly expressed concerns about the abuse of civilians arrested by soldiers and interrogated in military custody. Human Rights Watch submitted a letter to the Thai government in November 2015 that raised serious concerns about conditions at the 11th Army Circle military base following the deaths of fortuneteller Suriyan Sucharitpolwong and Police Maj. Prakrom Warunprapa during their detention there. Human Rights Watch called on the government to immediately transfer all civilians detained at the 11th Army Circle military base to an officially recognized civilian place of detention that complies with international standards and ensure no further non-military prisoners are detained at this facility or any other similar facility.
â€œThe governmentâ€™s failure to investigate torture allegations is a flashing light atop military abuses,â€ Adams said. â€œThe juntaâ€™s record of obfuscation and denial in the face of corpses in custody and battered bodies show just how detached the government has become from basic human rights protections.â€
(Additional reporting by Pairat Temphairojana and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Simon Webb)