Boonlert could face ISA charge

Pitak Siam leader Boonlert Kaewprasit could face charges of violating the Internal Security Act (ISA) for leading the anti-government Pitak Siam rally on Saturday, said national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew.

Pol Gen Adul said the Royal Plaza, where Pitak Siam held the rally, was covered by the ISA declaration.

If Pitak Siam protesters broke the law, he reasoned, their leader must take responsibility as well.

He said he has ordered the Royal Thai Police's legal unit to determine who broke the law.

The probe into Pitak Siam protesters' alleged violations of the ISA must be completed within 30 days, the city police investigation team said yesterday.

The maximum period for temporarily detaining suspects in this case was only 30 days, said Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, who heads the investigative team. Investigators needed to speed up their work, he added.

A total of 127 Pitak Siam demonstrators were detained during the rally in Bangkok. They were charged for entering areas declared off-limits under the authority of the ISA, which was imposed by the government to deal with the protesters, Pol Gen Chatchawal said.

Ten other protesters were detained separately on different charges including insulting security officials and unauthorised possession of knives and communication radios.

The driver of a six-wheeled truck that rammed into a police barrier at Makkhawan Rangsan bridge during the rally was charged with the attempted murder of officers. Several policemen were hurt in the incident.

Pol Gen Chatchawal said police do not intend to question any more suspects in the ISA violation case, but witnesses, including security officials injured in clashes with protesters, would be invited in for questioning.

Meanwhile, three cameramen who were wounded during the clashes between police and Pitak Siam protesters lodged a complaint with Nang Loeng police yesterday, saying they were injured and their cameras confiscated.

Santi Tepia, a photographer for ASTV Manager newspaper; Thosarit Wattharas, a cameraman for T News news agency; and Pattnasak Woradech, a cameraman for Thai PBS, said they wanted police to arrest the people who assaulted and unlawfully detained them. Mr Santi and Mr Pattanasak were detained and taken to the Crime Suppression Division's (CSD) headquarters along with a number of protesters, despite insisting they were members of the media, they said.

The pair was later released when some of their colleagues arrived at the CSD to negotiate with authorities.

The journalists submitted pictures taken during the incident as evidence to back up their complaints.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the Pitak Siam protesters were likely to return _ and if they hold another rally, the ISA would again be invoked.

Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar, in his capacity as a core leader of the pro-government red shirts, echoed Mr Chalerm's observation, saying the attempt to topple the Pheu Thai Party-led government would continue.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry expressed hope that countries which last week issued a warning to their citizens not to enter to the areas covered by the ISA would revoke the warnings, since the ISA was lifted on Monday.

Deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs Vijavat Isarabhakdi briefed 30 diplomats from embassies in Bangkok yesterday.

Twenty-two countries had issued warnings to their citizens, he said.

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Writer: Patsara Jikkham & Thanida Tansubhapol