Thailand crisis: 2 Navy SEALS working as protest guards — Two Thai Navy SEALS, officers of the Naval Special Warfare Command, are facing a disciplinary probe for working as hired bodyguards for the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest group, according to reports.
The officers were arrested at a police checkpoint in Bangkok’s Thonburi district for carrying weapons on Wednesday afternoon.
They are Petty Officer 1st Class Sompong Tannark and Petty Officer 1st Class Preecha Moonpuak, both age 34.
PO1 Sompong was found to be carrying a 9mm Glock on his waist, while PO1 Preecha had the same type of weapon disassembled in his shoulder bag, said police.
Also in their possession were two PDRC security guard cards, five magazines, and nearly 40 9mm rounds, said a Bangkok Post report.
During questioning, the two allegedly confessed to being hired to provide security for key PDRC leaders at the Lumpini Park rally site.
Navy secretary Rear Adm Kan Dee-ubon confirmed the two suspects were Navy SEALS, but were currently assigned to work with the Royal Thai Marine Task Force in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat.
He also said a fact-finding committee has been set up to investigate the officers’ involvement with the PDRC. If found guilty, they could face the maximum penalty of dismissal from service.
Last month the navy chief ordered all navy personnel to remain politically neutral, and ordered all those not involved in dealing with the PDRC protests to refrain from commenting on the matter because of the sensitivity of the situation.
All Navy SEALS have been instructed to return to their bases and to stay away from the anti-government rallies, as well as ordering the Navy SEALS commander to stop making comments on the protest-related violence.
The weapons found on the suspects reportedly belong to the navy, but because of the emergency decree they were charged with carrying the weapons and ammunition without a good reason.
The navy said they would allow police to proceed with the charges, and would not protect the two suspects.