Europe protests target Prayut
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha arrived in Italy early Thursday (Thailand time), facing imminent twin protests: In Milan against the coup and in London over the Koh Tao murder investigation. (Photo by Government House)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha landed in Italy early Thursday (Thailand time) and was greeted by Italian foreign ministry officials and Thai dignitaries. (Photos by Government House)
He warned foreigners not to meddle in the investigation or proceedings of the Koh Tao killings and put heavy restrictions on "cooperation" promised by police during a tense three-hour meeting on Tuesday with the ambassadors of Britain and Myanmar.
Teams of officials from the two countries will be allowed only to observe progress in the murder case, not interfere with the Thai investigation process, the prime minister said just before leaving for Milan and the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) summit.
"They will have to respect our processes," he said. National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang earlier met British ambassador Mark Kent and Myanmar ambassador Win Maung.
Gen Prayut said the police will not have to notify the envoys about every single aspect of the judicial process, but the diplomats can ask for clarification on issues if they have any questions.
A major protest is planned in London on Friday in front of the prime minister's residence, a traditional rally point.
The Downing Street protest is expected to demand that the British government insist that Thailand open an independent investigation into the Koh Tao killings.
A petition at Change.org had gathered more than 80,000 signatures by early Thursday. It calls for the government to take a more active approach with Bangkok to call for an independent probe - by the British.
"We demand a full independent investigation to be conducted by the government of the United Kingdom into these deaths," says the petition, which by law must be considered by the government if it attains 100,000 signatures.
Pol Maj Gen Paveen Pongsirin, deputy commander of Police Region 8, said the investigation report into the killing of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller last month is complete.
Myanmar nationals Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin have been charged with the murders and detained for the past 12 days.
Pol Maj Gen Paveen said prosecutors must now decide whether to indict the suspects in the case. The two have been charged with rape, murder and illegal entry to Thailand.
Gen Prayut and party booked into the Rosa Grand near the Piazza Fontana in Italy, self-described as a "luxury four-star hotel in Milan". You can get a junior suite worthy of a prime minister's party for as little as 18,089 baht per night according to the hotel's website.
Anti-coup protests aimed directly at Gen Prayut were scheduled in Milan by Thai exiles and supporters on Thursday (late afternoon Thailand time) by Thai exiles and supporters.
Exiled Thai academic and activist Junya Yimprasert, one of many who fled Thailand in the face of a lese majeste charge, said Wednesday, "There is no sign that Prayut has any intention of allowing Thailand to return to the democratic process."
The labour activist added, "The EU should not have given him a visa to travel here and they should not be engaging with him. They should be telling him to restore democracy in Thailand immediately."
The EU has been sharply critical of the coup, but its governments agreed last month that there would be little point in barring Gen Prayut from the Asem summit, as they used to do with leaders of the Myanmar junta.