Monk-beating red shirts surrender

NONTHABURI — Four red shirts supporters - three men and a woman - turned themselves in to Nonthaburi police on Tuesday after a monk was assaulted during a Monday protest rally at the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The three men are Jakraphan Udom, 19, Krissana Karnbanjong, 19, Thanart Songprasert, 21. The woman identified herself as Hathaikanchana Choengyuth, 43. 

The four said they are members of the pro-government People’s Radio for Democracy Group (PRDG). The group on Monday led supporters to protest the anti-graft panel’s decision to charge caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra with malfeasance in connection with the rice-pledging scheme.

The four said they confessed to assaulting Phra Prat Supavirut, of a temple in Kalasin, during the rally. They were charged with bodily harm and released on bail. 

According to Phra Prat, he was attacked shortly after walking out of Soi Nonthaburi 48, where he attended a funeral for his son.

According to the monk's account, he was about to find a taxi when he saw some demonstrators chasing and assaulting a man. He complained to the protesters, saying their actions were causing trouble for passers-by. One of the demonstrators became upset at his remarks and accused him of not being a monk.

Suddenly, a group of PRDG members attacked him, the monk told police. He fled  to safety in a nearby shop until police came to rescue him and take him to Muang Nonthaburi Police Station. 

Mrs Hathaikanchana argued to police that Phra Prat had berated the protesters and pointed his cane at her. She doubted he was actually a monk and thought that he intended to attack her with the cane, so she asked male demonstrators to check him. The assault followed, she told interrogators.

Mrs Hathaikanchana claimed she and other protesters did not intend to beat Phra Prat, and blamed the monk for scolding them in the first place.

PRDG spokesman Sornrak Malaithong called the incident “self defence” and claimed the monk had entered the rally area and struck a demonstrator with a cane before anyone touched him.

The PDRG, a faction of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), has vowed to continue the blockade at the NACC until March 31, the deadline for Ms Yingluck to legally defend herself in the rice-purchase case.

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