Thai officials deny bomb suspect beaten in custody

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai officials on Wednesday denied that one of two ethnic Uighur Muslims from China accused of involvement in a deadly bombing in Thailand last year was beaten in custody.

Suspects of the August 17 Bangkok blast, Bilal Mohammed (also known as Adem Karadag) and Yusufu Mieraili are escorted as they arrive at the military court in Bangkok, Thailand, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo

Twenty people were killed and more than 120 wounded in the bombing on Aug. 17 at a Hindu shrine and tourist attraction in Bangkok. Five of the dead were from mainland China.

Police have arrested two suspects, Yusufu Mieraili and Adem Karadag, and have issued arrest warrants for 15 others, eight of whom are thought to be either Turkish or in Turkey, according to warrants and police statements.

Karadag and Mieraili have denied all charges against them.

Karadag broke down in court on Tuesday, lifted his shirt to show bruises and said he was beaten twice this month in custody.

A medical examination on Wednesday found no evidence of mistreatment, said Kobkiat Kasivivat, deputy permanent secretary for the Justice Ministry.

A transfer request submitted by Karadag’s lawyers would be considered, Kobkiat said. Karadag and Mieraili are being held at a correction facility in Bangkok’s 11th Army Circle base where two suspects died while in detention last year.

The facility is for those the government deem a security threat.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who is also defense minister, said Karadag had not been mistreated.

“It’s not true,” Prawit said. “He probably made up the story.”

Police say Karadag was caught on CCTV footage at the shrine, sitting on a bench and slipping off a bulky backpack before walking away, just before the blast.

Additional reporting by Pairat Temphairojana and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Simon Webb