TWO Thai Red Shirt activists suspected of involvement in an attempted bombing in Bangkok last month said at a press conference yesterday that they were being framed.
Kobchai Boonplod and Varisareeya Boonsom, both 42, were arrested in Siem Reap province on Saturday and handed over to Thai officials at Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday.
As they were being escorted onto the tarmac, the husband and wife told reporters they would face death if they were sent back to Thailand.
The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Kobchai and Varisareeya had been charged with possessing and using explosive substances to harm others and damage assets, and with bringing an explosive into a public area.
At a press conference at Royal Thai Police headquarters in the Thai capital yesterday, they both again denied their involvement, though they admitted to having sheltered fellow Red Shirts wanted by police.
“I had no motive [to be involved in the bombing]. I did not know anything about it,” Varisareeya told reporters. She said the pair travelled to Siem Reap on June 23 to meet Red Shirt leaders believed to be operating from there.
Thai Assistant National Police Chief Aswin Kwanmuang quoted Cambodian officials as saying that on the day of the couple’s arrest, staff members at their hotel in Siem Reap told them to come down to the lobby to meet Red Shirt leaders Kanyapak Maneejak and Payap Panket.
Police then arrested the couple when they arrived in the lobby, he said.
“The couple said these fellow Red Shirts called them out of their hotel room only to be arrested,” The Nation newspaper quoted Aswin as saying.
But Cambodian officials rejected the reports, along with the suggestion that senior Red Shirts were living freely in Siem Reap after fleeing mass protests in Bangkok that were broken up in May.
“Thai Red Shirt leaders did not enter into Cambodia as confirmed by the Thai spy group reporting through some Thai media,” said Tith Sothea, a spokesman at the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers.
“This is not true information,” he said.
Siem Reap provincial Police Chief Sarth Nady said he could provide no information about the alleged presence of Red Shirts, and added that he did not know the name of the hotel at which the couple had been staying because his men were not responsible for the operation.
When asked whether Cambodia would deport other Red Shirts found living in Cambodia, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that the country would arrest anyone guilty of committing terrorist acts.
“We don’t care whether they are red shirts, yellow shirts, black shirts or blue shirts. We are committed to the policy against terrorism,” he said.