Thai police deny hit-and-run accusation by anti-government protesters

“Talugas” protesters

Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) denied today (Monday) an accusation by anti-government protesters that a police truck had hit a “Talugas” protester and then fled the scene at Din Daeng intersection during a protest on Sunday night.

MPB Commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Pakapong Phongpetra told a news conference this morning that the alleged hit-and-run incident occurred at almost midnight on Sunday as a police van, used to hold suspects and driven by a police lance corporal was heading back to a police station.

He said that the sound of explosions was being heard periodically at the time and a group of about 7 protesters suddenly dashed onto the road, forcing the officer to brake aggressively, but the van hit one of the protesters.

According to the police officer’s statement, the victim managed to stand up and flee the scene, so he sped away in the truck, for fear that he might be attacked if he had stopped.

Pol Lt-Gen Pakapong insisted that driver did not deliberately drive into the small group of protesters as alleged and, hence, his action did not constitute a hit-and-run incident.

He also said that the officer subsequently filed a complaint with Din Daeng police, accusing the protesters of attacking the police truck and attempting to assault him adding, however, that the accident victim can also file a complaint with the Din Daeng police.

The police commissioner maintained that his officers had been trying to maintain peace and order at the intersection, by setting up roadblocks to check passing cars and motorcycles, but their efforts were constantly challenged by the protesters. He alleged that the protesters had become more violent, citing the arrest on Sunday night of a protester in possession of a loaded pistol.

He went on to say that the police had tried their best to avoid a confrontation with the protesters, but stressed that police are duty-bound to enforce the law, particularly the 9pm-4am curfew.

Meanwhile, Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai, MPB deputy commissioner, said that the hard core “Talugas” protesters continued their violent protest Sunday, night hurling firecrackers, flares and cherry bombs at the Royal Thai Army Band Department on Vibhavadi Rangsit road, forcing police to respond with water cannons, but to limited effect.

He alleged that some of the protesters burned used tyres in front of the Thai-Japanese sports stadium and blocked the road, completely obstructing traffic flow in the area.

Moreover, he alleged that some protesters had scattered spikes on the road to prevent cars from using the Din Daeng underpass. Despite repeated warnings from the police, the protesters refused to disperse and carried on with their protest until after the curfew hours.

Hardcore “Talugas” protesters have been protesting at Din Daeng intersection on a daily basis for several weeks now, often clashing with crowd control police and using firecrackers, cherry bombs, flares and sling shots.

 

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