HK photographer detained at Bangkok airport for ballistic vest in luggage

HK photographer detained at Bangkok airport for ballistic vest in luggage

August 24, 2015 5:23 AM (UTC+8)

 

A Hong Kong photographer faces jail after he was detained for carrying a ballistic vest and helmet while covering the aftermath of last week’s deadly shrine bombing, police said Monday.

Hong Kong journalist Hok Chun Anthony Kwan sits in a cell after he was detained Sunday at Suvarnabhumi airport for carrying body armour and a helmet onto a flight bound for Hong Kong
Hong Kong photojournalist Hok Chun Anthony Kwan sits in a cell after he was detained Sunday at Suvarnabhumi airport
 Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, who works for the Hong Kong-based Initium media group, was held by police after trying to depart Suvarnabhumi airport on Sunday.

There was confusion early Monday about whether Kwan would face a civilian or military court and what he has been charged with.

A senior officer at Suvarnabhumi Airport told AFP that the case would go to a military tribunal.

“We took this case, he will be charged with the normal process,” Police Colonel Santi Wannarak said without elaborating.

But Kwan’s lawyer, Sirikarn Charoensiri, said the case was being handled by Samut Prakhan provincial court and that she was “waiting for court to order a pretrial detention and/or bail submission”.

Since seizing power in a coup last year, Thailand’s junta have ramped up use of military courts, particularly for any crimes that are deemed national security cases.

“Still waiting at the airport police station,” Kwan texted Monday.

“All I know is I am going to court,” he added.

Basic personal protection equipment commonly used by media around the world such as gas masks, ballistic vests and helmets are classified as weapons under Thailand’s Arms Control Act and have to be licensed.

But attempts by media groups over the years to seek permission from authorities to carry such items have fallen on deaf ears despite the country’s long history of deadly street protests and a festering Muslim insurgency in the deep south.

Until now, the ban on civilians and journalists carrying unlicensed equipment has largely been ignored.

‘Most tips on bombing are bogus’

Ninety per cent of the tips Thai police have received on the Bangkok bombing have not been authentic, the country’s top policeman said Monday, following the recent tripling of the reward, dpa reports.

A billboard shows a detailed sketch of the man suspected of planting a bomb that killed 20 people last week in Bangkok
A billboard shows a detailed sketch of the man suspected of planting a bomb that killed 20 people last week in Bangkok

Updating reporters a week after the bomb attack, Police Chief Somyot Poompanmoung said most of the call-ins to police hotlines have been untrue and made by people “who have bad motives.”

Police are now offering 3 million baht ($84,000) for information leading to the capture of the bombing suspect.

He said  he cannot affirm whether the Erawan Shrine bomber is still in Thailand adding  that so far, there have been no evidences that the suspect has left the kingdom, The Nation reports.

Police have not yet ruled out any possible motives, including political conflicts, personal conflicts, business conflicts, ethnic and religious conflicts.

He added that police has disproved a report that the suspect has fled to Malaysia on an AirAsia flight.

He said the Thai police sought cooperation from Malaysian authorities and AirAsia and found that the suspect in the report is 185 centimetre tall, which is not the height (170cm) of the Erawan shrine suspect.

Somyot added that police had checked the reports that the suspect had changed his shirt in Chulalongkorn Hospital to a grey shirt but the report could not be confirmed because security cameras in the hospital were out of service.

He said he was confident the suspect would be caught and he denied police were working inefficiently.

He said police had placed orders for equipment that would help in the analysis of CCTV and camera footage.

 

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