During the riot, which lasted through the night of Oct 11, 2015, hundreds of protesters torched cars and hurled bricks at Thalang Police Station in retaliation for two local teenagers dying in a motorbike chase by police allegedly pursuing the teens to arrest them for drugs.
Several police officers were injured in the melee. (See story here.)
Thalang Police Chief Col Teerawat Liamsuwan confirmed to The Phuket News today (May 16) that Phuket native Setthawut Tangjit, a first-year engineering student at Southeast Asia University in Bangkok, was arrested by Crime Suppression Division, with Thalang Police officers present, in the capital yesterday.
“Thalang Police officers travelled to Bangkok to take into custody Setthawut Tangjit, 21 years old. He was taken to the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok yesterday afternoon. He will arrive at Thalang Police Station this evening,” Col Teerawat said.
"The charges against him will be investigated fully. I will not hold a press conference because the warrant of arrest issued by the Phuket Provincial Court has been in effect since 2015,” he added.
Under arrest warrant No. 844/2558 issued by the Phuket Provincial Court on Nov 18, 2015, Mr Setthawut stands accused of:
- Uniting with 10 or more people to engage in violence and threatening to use violence
- Taking action that causes chaos in the country
- Burning of public property and chattels
- Uniting with others to cause property damage
- Uniting with others to assault officials who are acting in accordance with their duties
- Uniting with others to invade government buildings
- Uniting with others to obstruct traffic on a public road
Col Teerawat confirmed that he was aware that Mr Setthawut has denied the charges and told police in Bangkok that he was not even in Phuket at the time of the riot. Instead, Mr Setthawut said he was on holiday in Nakhon Sri Thammarat at the time.
“Mr Setthawut has the right to deny or confess to the charges, but he must say that in court,” Col Teerwat said.
However, Col Teerawat did not confirm whether or not Mr Setthawut would be charged as a juvenile, as he was still a teenager at the time of his alleged role in the riot.
Meanwhile, the search continues for 10 other suspects wanted for their roles in the Thalang Riot, Col Teerwat added.
“Mr Setthawut is 74th of 84 suspects in total wanted for their involvement in the riot,” Col Teerawat explained.
Half a dozen police officers were treated for injuries and a total of 21 vehicles were vandalized in the riots, which resulted in an estimated B6.7 million baht in damage to government property. (See story here.)
The four police officers involved in the botched drugs arrest that resulted in the deaths of Pathomwat Panarak, 22, and Thanaporn Kantakien, 17 – and consequently sparked the riot – remained on active duty.
The four officers – Lt Suchart Luecha, Snr Sgt Maj Prasai Phuengphol, L/Cpl Kanthaphol Khongnukate and L/Cpl Phanuwit Kaewsang – were quickly transferred from Thalang Police Station and the deaths of Mr Pathomwat and Mr Thanaporn were promptly ruled as an accident. (See story here.)