Thai police award themselves $84k for 'doing their job' in Bangkok bombing arrest

© Athit Perawongmetha
Thai police have gifted themselves $84,000 for arresting a suspect in this month's deadly Erawan Shrine bombing. The money was set aside for those providing tips leading to an arrest, but now officers are reaping the benefit for "doing their jobs."

Stressing that an arrest had been made without any outside tips, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said he was gifting the money to officers to highlight that they are good at their jobs.

Holding stacks of cash during a Monday press conference, Somyot said: "This is real money," adding that the arrest was due to “good police work.”

"It is the ability of Thai officials that led to the arrest," he said. "This money should be given to officials who did their job."

The reward was initially set at one million baht ($28,000), but quickly tripled after Somyot said that two of his friends who wished to remain anonymous had chipped in an additional two million baht ($56,000).

But the man who was arrested on Saturday has not been convicted or charged, and many are skeptical that the man is even the prime suspect at all.

The Monday announcement immediately drew criticism from those who have already expressed doubt that the crime will be solved, accusing Thai police of living up to their reputation of corruption and forced confessions.

But police say they are certain the man was part of a network that planned the attack – though they have not revealed his name, nationality, motive, or suspected relationship with the bombing network.

When asked directly whether the man is the main suspect, police have issued vague responses.

"He is a man in the network," Somyot said on Monday, adding that the man is in military custody for initial interrogation and will be turned over to the police to be charged. The military has controlled the country since a May 2014 coup.

The arrested suspect was spotted on security video leaving a backpack at the shrine shortly before the explosion. Authorities say bomb-making materials – including detonators, ball bearings, and a metal pipe – and “multiple” fake passports were found at his apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok.

On Sunday, police said that they found more bomb-making materials in a raid on another apartment in a nearby neighborhood. The images of two additional suspects – a Thai woman identified as 26-year-old Wanna Suansun and a sketch of a foreign man of unknown nationality – were released on Monday.

Twenty people were killed and more than 120 injured in the bombing at Erawan Shrine on August 17.