The trial of two Uyghur men accused of carrying out a deadly bombing last year at a Hindu shrine in Bangkok opened on Tuesday after months of delays caused by wrangling over a courtroom interpreter.
Adem Karadag (also known as Bilal Mohammed) and Yusufu Mierali went on trial at a military court in Bangkok after judges accepted a pair of interpreters provided by the Chinese embassy, according to a lawyer for the defendants.
Karadeg and Mierali were arrested within a few weeks of the bombing at the Erawan Shrine, a popular tourist destination in Bangkok, that left 20 people dead and 125 injured on Aug. 17, 2015. The two defendants, who identified themselves as Uyghurs from Urumqi in the Xinjiang region of China when they pleaded not guilty to the charges nine months ago, could face the death penalty if convicted.
“My clients were not happy about the translators provided by Chinese embassy, but, to me, it is acceptable for making the trial [go ahead]. It is a minor issue,” defense lawyer Chuchart Kanpai told BenarNews.
“The translator can communicate well in Uyghur but the defendants felt uneasy. The court took note of the complaint of their discomfort,” he said.
Many injured, many dead: Witness
Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority within China, who mostly live in the Xinjiang region but are also spread across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey. Uyghurs have been leaving China in large numbers to escape alleged persecution and repression by Chinese authorities, who consider them to be separatists and terrorists.
The bombing happened weeks after Thai authorities forcibly sent nearly 100 Uyghurs to China. However, soon after the attack, Thailand’s prime minister rejected media reports speculating about this.
Full story: BenarNews
Somchai Kwankijswet and Nontarat Phaicharoen
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