Bangkok blast probe hindered by broken cameras

Up TO 75 per cent of the security cameras were broken along the getaway path taken by the main suspect in last week’s deadly Bangkok bombing, Thailand’s police chief said yesterday, revealing a major obstacle to an investigation that has only fuzzy images of the still-unidentified man.

The suspect was thought to have entered a local hospital. Picture: AP

Investigators are trying to “put pieces of the puzzle together” but have had to use their imagination to fill holes left by cameras that failed to record his movements, said national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung, openly frustrated as he spoke out after the blast.

“For example, the perpetrator was driving away – escaping – and there are CCTV cameras following him. Sometimes there were 20 cameras on the street but only five worked,” Somyot said. “Fifteen were broken, for whatever reason, they didn’t work.

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“The footage jumps around from one camera to another, and for the missing parts police have had to use their imagination. We’ve had to waste time connecting the dots.”

Another challenge is that investigators lack sophisticated equipment like police use on the popular TV crime series CSI to render blurry video clear, he said.

“Have you seen CSI?” Mr Somyot asked. “We don’t have those things.”

One week after last Monday’s bombing at the capital’s revered Erawan Shrine, which left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured, police appeared no closer to tracking down suspects or determining a motive for the attack.

Police have faced criticism for sending mixed messages and stating theories as if they were fact, only to later retract them.

Mr Somyot said yesterday that investigators were still trying to determine the suspect’s nationality and whereabouts.

Asked if the suspect was still in Thailand, he said, “I don’t know.

“I still believe he is in Thailand because I have no evidence to confirm otherwise,” he said.

Over the weekend, police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said he suspected the man may have left the country.

Police have released an artist’s sketch of the suspect who was seen in security camera video from the open-air shrine leaving a backpack at a bench and walking away 15 minutes before the explosion. A separate camera showed the suspect, wearing a yellow T-shirt, on the back of a motorcycle taxi leaving the site.

Police have questioned a motorcycle taxi driver believed to have driven the suspect away. The driver told police the man handed him a piece of paper saying “Lumpini Park”, the city’s largest park which is near the shrine.

Police have tried to chase a report that after the suspect got off the motorcycle at the park, he went into a nearby hospital and changed into a grey T-shirt, but all the hospital cameras were broken Mr Somyot said.