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Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

Asia

Militants in 2010 Thai unrest 'sought millions to reveal name of mastermind'

The Nation/ANN | Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

Police commandos provide security as five suspects accused of involvement in an armed attack during the 2010 political unrest are taken to the Criminal Court yesterday for permission for police to detain them during further investigation.

Some of the "men in black" who launched attacks during the political unrest in 2010 offered to reveal the mastermind in exchange for millions of baht, Democrat Party politician Thaworn Senneam said yesterday.

Thaworn claimed to have been approached by four of the armed militants who took part in the violent - sometimes deadly - attacks during the 10 weeks of street protests by red shirts protesters against the Democrat-led government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva four years ago.

Thaworn served as deputy interior minister during the government's tenure.

Thaworn said four of the "men in black" demanded Bt5 million (S$195,900) each from him in exchange for "telling the truth" and identifying the people who hired them.

The Democrat politician said he rejected the offer, as the requested sum was too high.

He said they had told him that those who hired them promised a car and Bt1 million cash for each of them after they completed their operation. However, they each ended up being paid only Bt100,000 after finishing work.

According to Thaworn, dozens of "men in black" were trained in the use of weapons in Cambodia before launching the attacks.

Thaworn said the men who approached him were a different group than the five suspects who were arrested earlier this week in connection with the deadly attack near the Democracy Monument on April 10, 2010, that led to the deaths of at least five soldiers, including then-Colonel Romklao Thuvatham.

More than 90 people were killed and some 2,000 others injured in the unrest that led to riots and arson attacks on many city buildings.

'They did exist, despite denials'

He said the recent arrests and the people who approached him were proof that the "men in black" did exist, in addition to findings by official investigative committees, although some groups of people denied their existence, including the red shirts' United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Thaworn was also a leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee, which organised over six months of street protests against the previous government led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

In a related development, police yesterday took the five suspected assailants during the 2010 unrest - four of them men and one woman - to seek permission from the Criminal Court to detain them for 12 days while police investigate the case.

Police Colonel Prasopchok Prommoon, deputy commander of the Crime Suppression Division, where the suspects are being detained, said that investigators needed more time to question the suspects in order to determine their accomplices.

"We are gathering evidence for the arrest of the other people involved in this crime," he said.

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