Burning Central World

20 02 2013

PPT was struck by a recent Prachatai report last weekend on the continuing court case on the Central World arson in May 2010.  The South Bangkok Criminal Court has now scheduled 25 March as the date for its ruling in the case of the only remaining defendants, Saichon Phaebua and Phinit Channarong. Earlier, two juveniles were acquitted.

Phinit was arrested and charged with six others, “charged with robbery, use of arms against the authorities, and violating the Emergency Decree.” They have already been sentenced to six months “for violating the Emergency Decree, but were acquitted on the other charges, except one man who was found guilty of robbery and was given another three years in prison.”

Saichon was arrested about three weeks after the burning of Central World and claims “he was physically abused by the police during and after the arrest, and was forced to confess.” He has repeatedly stated that “he was not the same person as seen in a photograph submitted as evidence to the court by the prosecution, as he has a tattoo on his right arm as can be seen from a photograph taken when he was brought to a press conference by the police.” The photo at Prachatai seems to support him.A statue of Buddha and a torn Thai national flag remain in front of Bangkok's Central World shopping mall, as it burns

A defence lawyer showed “photographs of a man carrying a green container, which was submitted by the prosecution as evidence against Saichon,” it became clear that “the green container was a fire extinguisher, and was not a gas container.”

His employer, “Pol Maj Sa-ngiam Samranrat, 61, a local red-shirt leader in Chumphon province and currently a political employee at the Secretariat of the Prime Minister, said that he had opened a shop selling food and red-shirt merchandise at the Imperial World shopping mall on Lad Phrao, and had hired Saichon as a vendor. He insisted that the defendant was at the shop during 12-19 May 2010.”

The comments by “defence witness … Pol Lt Col Chumphon Bunprayun, Secretary General of the Public Disaster Relief Volunteer Association of Thailand and an advisor on fire prevention to Central Pattana Plc which owns Central World” is most interesting. He says that there was a “a safety and fire prevention plan … drawn up for Central World.  The mall’s staff included a team of 25 full-time professional firefighters.  It had all the facilities needed to deal with any fire incidents, in accordance with international standards, he said.” The mall also had a “180-strong security staff.”

He said that the security staff “eventually decided to leave the premises at about 4.40 pm…”. He adds that “all areas around the mall had already been in military control since the security staff left in late afternoon.” Chumphon states:

‘If our team had not been forced to leave, a fire of such a scale would have been of little concern.  The buildings were fully equipped.  The water supply was abundant.  All three buildings were connected.  The internal water pressure system was functional.  If we had not been forced to leave, the mall would not have been burnt down.  Those who forced us to leave were those armed people, throwing bombs.  Even the police had to flee,’ he said.

‘Nowhere in this world do authorities not clear the way for firefighters.  Since late afternoon, no one ever cleared the way, just leaving it to burn like that,’ he said.


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1 03 2013
More on CentralWorld fire | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] week or so ago PPT posted on continuing court case on the CentralWorld arson in May 2010.  The South Bangkok Criminal Court […]

1 03 2013
More on CentralWorld fire «Political Prisoners of Thailand Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] week or so ago PPT posted on continuing court case on the CentralWorld arson in May 2010.  The South Bangkok Criminal Court […]

26 03 2013
Who burned Bangkok? | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] PPT posted some time ago, the South Bangkok Criminal Court heard the case of the remaining defendants, Saichon Phaebua and […]

26 03 2013
Who burned Bangkok? | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] PPT posted some time ago, the South Bangkok Criminal Court heard the case of the remaining defendants, Saichon Phaebua and […]




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