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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           12   July  2011

Trial for alleged Thai arsonists begins

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Prosecutors are scheduled to present closed-circuit video footage today in the criminal trial of two men charged with participating in the arson that burned down CentralWorld and Zen department store last year.

The video is expected to help pinpoint those responsible for setting the shopping centre ablaze during riots after the military moved in to disperse red-shirt demonstrators in central Bangkok on May 19, 2010. Police have charged two adults and two minors with arson and their trials are being held separately in Criminal Court and Juvenile Court.

Tawee Nakchumnum, 42, a senior security guard employed by Central Group which owns the shopping complex, on July 1 testified in Criminal Court he and other guards had discovered a number of small fires in the building and were trying to douse them when the rioters stormed the building.

The security staff tried to negotiate with the rioters to allow them to put out the fire in the building but their threatening behaviour forced Mr Tawee and his team to retreat and hide.

Anond Khempetch, 30, another state witness who has been in charge of the CentralWorld's CCTV control room for two years, told the court that he had watched on the control room monitors as a dozen people or more threw Molotov cocktails at the building as others started looting.

Two of the defendants, Saichol Pae Bua, 29, and Pinit Jannarong ,27, are due to appear before the court again today for another hearing, during which the public prosector will present CCTV video footage of the looting and arson attack on the shopping complex.

The other two defendants Padsakorn Chaisrithao (18) and Attaporn Wannato (18) appeared before the juvenile court last week in separate hearings. They are scheduled to return to court on Thursday for another hearing.

In addition to the arson charge, Padsakorn, Attaporn and Mr Pinit also face charges of looting. Mr. Saichol is being tried only for the arson charge.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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