Army probes 'riot, looting' clip

The army says it is examining an audio recording believed to feature the voice of hardline Pathum Thani red-shirt leader Wutthipong "Ko Tee" Kachathamkhun which encourages supporters to start stockpiling weapons to fight the military under an operation named "red ants fell an elephant".

The man who called himself Ko Tee at the beginning of the five-minute clip, was giving a phone interview with a radio programme host and detailed plans to fight the army and the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in a bid to protect the caretaker government.

In the clip, which has gone viral on the internet, the man accused the army of double standards over its treatment of the PDRC. He claimed the army had brought tanks into Bangkok despite the fact that there had been no declaration of a state of war or martial law. As a result, his group could stockpile weapons to fight with soldiers.

He also threatened to stage widespread disorder and looting in the capital if the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) rules that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is guilty in charges of dereliction of duty over alleged irregularities in the rice-pledging scheme.

He said PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban tried to call a massive rally one last time to overthrow the Yingluck government at the same time the NACC was due to deliver its decision in Ms Yingluck’s case in mid-April. 

“Today M79s have already been fired, but only a few. That day [of the NACC’s ruling], the sound of gunshots will ring out all over Bangkok,” he said.

“I can tell you that there will not be only my group. Dang Siam and other independent groups [are there] as well. Many others are waiting.”

He urged his supporters to loot money from ATMs belonging to Thai Military Bank and those belonging to other commercial banks which he alleged to be allies with the PDRC including Bangkok Bank, Krungsri Bank and Siam Commercial Bank.

He called on them to loot convenience stores and take away fuel from petrol stations, saying the acts were not meant to rob them from the operators but only “borrow” them for supply-gathering and would return them when the situation returns to normal.

The man also vented his anger over the army's pressing charges of promoting separatism against him. He said the move was too harsh as his group had hung a banner with a message related to separating Thailand only to show sarcasm to highlight military "bias" in favour of anti-government demonstrators. "Since they really want to press charges of separatist against me, now I feel like showing them the real segregation."

Army deputy spokesman Winthai Suwaree said the remarks are likely to incite public disorder and violate the law. The army would check on the law to see if it can take legal action against the person in the clip and, if found guilty, would gather evidence to file a lawsuit with the police.

“We plead with all sides to comply with the intention of the government sector, which is to do everything under the legal framework," Col Winthai said.

“Please understand that the military has taken all its actions under the rule of law, whether it is right or wrong should be up to the judicial process. This is standard practice recognised by the global community.”

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