Police arrest leaders of right-wing groups
The arrest of two core members of the Thai Patriots Network in Bangkok and a court decision not to grant bail to a third leading member being held in jail in Cambodia will only strengthen the network and its allied People's Alliance for Democracy, say supporters.
Thai Patriots Network corememberChaiwat Sinsuwong arrives at the CrimeSuppression Division offices yesterday in the back of a pickup truck.
Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a former leader of the PAD, and Somboon Thongburan, a former senator, were apprehended yesterday at a sukiyaki restaurant at a Tesco Lotus hypermarket in the Pathumwan area.
The arrests came as Veera Somkwamkid was denied bail by a Cambodian court which is hearing trespassing and espionage charges against him. The court yesterday did allow bail for four other Thais who are also facing the trespassing charge.
The arrest of Mr Chaiwat and Mr Somboon came after they led supporters yesterday morning in presenting a petition to His Majesty the King at the Grand Palace asking that he help seven Thai nationals being tried in Cambodia on trespassing and other charges. Six of the seven are now free on bail.
Thai Patriots Network coordinator Sunthon Rakrong said the police action had forced a change in the movement's plan of action.
"We thought about ending the rally
[outside Government House to protest against the government's failure to secure the release of the seven held in Cambodia] after submitting the petition," he said.
"But when the video footage taken of the arrest is released, we'll now intensify our rally."
Mr Sunthon accused the police who arrested Mr Chaiwat and Mr Somboon of using unnecessary force.
He said five police threw Mr Chaiwat into the back of a pickup truck. They also beat up a security guard and a photographer who filmed the arrest.
"He [Mr Chaiwat] was tossed like some kind of animal. This was after he announced he was about to surrender."
Mr Sunthon said the police treatment had upset his movement's supporters and members of the PAD so that they were now expected to join the protest earlier than planned.
Former senator SomboonThongburan steps from a vehicle outside theCSDoffices following his arrest yesterday. PHOTOSBY SURAPOLPROMSAKANA SAKOLNAKORN
Mr Sunthon said his network would continue its rally and blockade of Phitsanulok Road near Government House in an effort to have Mr Veera brought home.
The group will hand a letter to the prime minister today asking him to call for talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on repatriating Mr Veera to Thailand rather than trying him in a Phnom Penh court.
Mr Sunthon said a news conference would be held today at 11am to discuss Mr Chaiwat's arrest and attempts to bring home Mr Veera and the six others who allegedly crossed illegally into Cambodia late last month.
Mr Chaiwat faces nine charges including terrorism for his role in the PAD's occupation of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008.
Mr Somboon faces seven charges for his involvement in PAD activities.
Dozens of network supporters led by Banawit Kengrian, a former deputy permanent secretary for defence, rallied yesterday in front of the Crime Suppression Division offices in support of Mr Chaiwat and Mr Somboon following their arrest.
Mr Chaiwat said yesterday he planned to report to the police and not seek bail.
"I was on my way to the Royal Thai Police but I was hungry, so I stopped at the mall," he said. He denied he was guilty of terrorism.
Police investigators had earlier sought warrants for the arrest of 11 PAD members who failed to report to acknowledge charges over the occupation of the airports.
Adm Banawit said he suspected something was amiss in Mr Chaiwat's arrest.
"Mr Chaiwat was here all the time," he said.
"But just when he is leading a campaign, they make an arrest."
A member of the Thai Patriots Network, Karun Sai-ngam, said Mr Chaiwat's arrest might affect the movement but it would not demoralise its supporters.