We Volunteer (WeVo) leader to appear in court on Monday to face charges with at least 17 other members of the group also held by the Border Patrol Police Bureau after being arrested last Saturday as the protest outside the Criminal Court got underway and during fierce clashes that ensued.
Thai police, on Saturday, targeted the ‘We Volunteer’ force of guards who are believed to be responsible for aggressive and violent tactics at Bangkok protests since the end of last year and especially for the disturbing scenes on February 28th last which saw scores of policemen injured when they were confronted and attacked by protesters outside the army compound which is home to Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
A key leader of the protest movement is to appear in court on Monday after police smashed the We Volunteer guards at last Saturday’s demonstration outside the Criminal Court in Bangkok which led to dramatic scenes.
It is understood the Metropolitan Police Bureau moved in to arrest Piyarat Chongthep at the Major Cineplex in the Ratchayothin area of the city ahead of later clashes that developed outside the court complex.
Group is a key factor in the recent upsurge in violence against police at protest rallies held in Bangkok
The group is thought to be a key reason for the violent actions of the protesters on Saturday, February 28th outside the 1st Infantry Regiment compound on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and in recent weeks, which has seen scores of policemen injured and hospitalised as lead protesters confronted their lines and assailed them with objects and explosive devices.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau, on Sunday, confirmed that between 20 and 40 protesters had been arrested in the coordinated police operation.
A spokesman underlined that the arrested protesters who were being held at the headquarters of the Border Patrol Police Bureau in Pathum Thani province will not be released.
To be charged in court on Monday after police seized catapults, projectiles, helmets and flak jackets
Mr Piyarat and other ‘guards’ arrested on Saturday are expected to be charged before the court.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s arrests, police revealed that they had seized 15 catapults together with a large number of glass balls, nuts and gas bombs.
They also seized helmets and no less than 37 flak jackets used by what protest leaders have referred to as ‘guards’ who appear to be acting as a quasi paramilitary force.
At least 17 members of the ‘guard’ unit arrested
It is understood that among those being held in Pathum Thani were a further 17 ‘guards’ who are the core of the force responsible for more aggressive tactics being used by the protest movement.
Although there were 4 different protest groups active on Saturday, police focused their efforts on the Redem (Restart Democracy) rally where the We Volunteer (WeVo) group was participating.
Seven policemen injured and six hospitalised
On Saturday, seven police officers were injured in confrontations with the group with six having to be hospitalised.
In addition, the same groups of protesters caused extensive damage to nine official vehicles including three prison lorries, buses and police trucks.
Attempt to burn another portrait of the king foiled by fellow protesters at the scene outside the court
There were chaotic scenes on Saturday, at one point, when the We Volunteer (WeVo) group stacked rubbish under a portrait of the Thai King and set it alight.
This caused other protesters, who did not support the provocative act, to rush to the scene and extinguish the fire.
A mock warrant attached to the portrait speaking to the right of protesters to assemble and protest was quickly taken down by plainclothes policemen also at the scene.
Released protesters surrender to Phahon Yothin police
At one point, the ‘guards’ broke into a police lorry and released detained protesters from the vehicle.
They justified their aggressive tactics by pointing out that police on Saturday had deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon against them.
Later, 14 protesters, through their lawyer, surrendered themselves to Phahon Yothin police.