20 people died in the Aug. 17 blast at the Erawan Shrine
A lawyer for the man accused of planting a bomb that killed 20 people in Bangkok last year has said his client was tortured into confessing his role in the attack.
Thai police say that Adem Karadag — who reportedly belongs to the Uighur ethnic group — is the man in a yellow T-shirt seen on security cameras leaving a backpack at the Erawan Shrine on Aug. 17 shortly before the blast, which killed mostly foreign tourists, including several Chinese.
Ahead of a military court hearing on Tuesday, Schoochart Kanpai, Karadag’s lawyer, told Reuters that his client had retracted an earlier confession.
“At the time he was tortured and under pressure. That is why he confessed to the charges against him,” the lawyer said. “He still maintains he has no involvement in this. The only charge he accepts is illegal entry.”
A spokesperson for Thailand’s military government, Winthai Suvaree, denied that Karadag — or his fellow suspect, Chinese-born Yusufu Mieraili — had been mistreated. “I am fairly certain nothing happened to the suspects while they were in military custody,” he told Reuters.
Karadag, also known as Bilal Mohammed, was arrested on Aug. 29 while carrying a Turkish passport that police say was fake. Representatives of the suspect have said he originally hails from the Xinjiang region of China, where ethnic Uighur separatists have clashed with the Chinese government in recent years, but moved to Turkey in 2004.
Thai authorities have said the attack was revenge for a crackdown on a people-smuggling ring, but some believe the bombing was organized by a group Turkish militants in retaliation for Thailand handing over more than 100 Uighurs to Chinese authorities in July of last year.