BANGKOK DEADLY BOMB BLAST — The trial of two men accused of involvement in a bomb attack which it killed 20 people in Bangkok last year began on Tuesday, following months of delays as the court searched for an interpreter for the defendants.
Yusufu Mieraili, 27, and Bilal Mohammed, 31, also known as Adem Karadag, both ethnic Uyghur Chinese, were appointed a translator by the Bangkok Military Court, despite the pair’s protestations that they did not trust the court’s choice.
On Oct 25, the court ordered that the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok be approached to provide a suitable translator — either Uyghur to English, or Mandarin to Thai — as the defendants both held Chinese passports.
The move came after plans to use an interpreter from the World Uyghur Congress were scrapped, and after the defendants said they could not understand their court-appointed interpreter, a woman who spoke Uzbek.
The two men are accused of involvement in the bombing of Bangkok’s Erawan shrine on Aug 17, 2015, and are collectively facing 10 charges including weapons offences, intention to kill and illegal immigration.
Pol Lt Col Somkieat Ploytumtim outlined the charges, and explained that, in the wake of the explosion, police had found three locations where explosives were being hidden.
At the hearing on Tuesday, they complained that the newly appointed interpreter could not be trusted, as they had been selected by the Chinese Embassy and would not attach any importance to them due to their ethnicity.
The court’s three judges rejected the claim, stating that it was enough that the translator held the same nationality as the defendants, and the trial would now proceed as planned.
They said the men were free to object, but they saw no reason to prolong the start of the trial any further.
As well as killing 20 people, mostly Chinese tourists, the blast injured more than 120 others, and sparked a national manhunt for the perpetrators.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, the office of the attorney general said the trial was now expected to last until late 2017 or early 2018.