Army halts handover of four suspects

The army yesterday abruptly cancelled the handover to police of four soldiers allegedly involved in the shooting of red-shirt leader Kwanchai Praipana.

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It accused the police of allegedly breaking a handover condition and cited this as the reason for the cancellation.

It had been agreed the army would take the four soldiers who are attached to the 9th Infantry Division to police investigators at Provincial Police Region 4’s training centre in Khon Kaen's Muang district yesterday morning.

The four were facing arrest warrants issued by the Udon Thani police in connection with last month’s shooting.

They were expected to be accompanied by staff judge advocates to the centre, where about 10 advocates and commissioned officers were waiting.

Two witnesses were also brought to the centre for questioning.

In the end, only lawyers representing the four suspects had actually arrived at the centre. They said the suspects had asked to postpone the appointment and turn themselves in to police at a later date, a source said.

The same source identified the four suspects as Sgt Mawin Yangbua, SM 2 Wiroj Pimsing, Sub Lt Prachya Janrodpai, Sgt Chanon Thapthimthong, and Sgt Banjong Kanthahan.

Maj Gen Pairoj Thongma-eng, chief of the 9th Infantry Division, said he was notified by the staff judge advocates responsible for handing over the four suspects to police that the handover had been called off.

The suspects had travelled to Khon Kaen, along with the staff judge advocates and military court prosecutors, expecting to be handed over to police.

Before they reached the police training centre they were informed that witnesses would be questioned while they were being interrogated, said Maj Gen Pairoj.

This had not been part of the agreement, he said.

The army had cooperated with the investigation, but the police had failed to keep the agreement, he added.

The four suspects would remain under the army’s care for the time being, Maj Gen Pairoj said.

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