May 22 2010
A British ‘Red shirt’, caught on tape saying he was going to burn down one of Asia’s biggest shopping malls after Thai troops fired on demonstrators in Bangkok, was last night seized by Thai police.
Jeff Savage, 48, from London, was arrested in the Thai resort of Pattaya, 100 miles east of Bangkok, less than 24 hours after he was filmed behind red-shirt lines in Bangkok.
His arrest followed a statement by a Thai Government spokesman last night that two foreigners had roles in the burning and looting last Wednesday.
‘A white Westerner was involved in the arson attack on Central World, convincing them to set fire to it. And an Asian was also involved in the arson attacks on the banks,’ said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.
Jeff Savage. Pic: McGinley
Last week Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation ( DSI) Director-general Tharit Pengdit has warned those who loot or commit arson may face a maximum punishment of death penalty.
Savage said last night: ‘I was not involved in the burning or looting and I can prove it.’ But he added that what was going to happen to Central World was common knowledge in the red-shirt camp.
Savage was caught on video by Scot Andy McGinley, 28, from Glasgow, saying that he and others were going to burn down Central World, a massive shopping complex in Bangkok.
Dressed in a black shirt and headband and carrying a bamboo pole he shouted: ‘We are going to smash the Central Plaza to shit and steal everything out of it and burn the f*cker down.
‘Trust me. Get the f*cking pictures. We are going to loot everything, gold watches, everything, and then we are going to burn the f*cker down’.
Central World with over a million square metres of retail space, originally called the ‘World Trade Centre’ and built on land owned by the King of Thailand is in total ruins and still smouldering.
It will have to be totally rebuilt. Set alight too were 34 other buildings in Bangkok and shop-owners are counting the cost of massive looting.
Savage, who last worked as a hospital porter in Tonbridge, Kent, was reported to have been seized in an apartment ion Beach Road, Pattaya.
Contacted by phone at the Immigration Department in Bangkok he initially said that he had been arrested on an immigration charges. ‘I have overstayed by about four days’.
But later he said: ‘This is more serious. They are showing me all sorts of pictures.’
Last night in a press conference also attended by diplomats the Thai government produced an array of rifles, grenades, and petrol bombs, seized from the red-shirts.
They also produced a video of ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and former owner of Manchester City F.C. urging the red shirts to attack provincial halls and announcing: ‘However you get to Bangkok, by tractor, by car, by lorry, I will join you there.’
And they showed other leaders inciting the red shirts to create as much damage as possible. In one video red shirt leader Arisamun Pongruengrong is seen urging supporters to stock up with petrol.
”If there are a million of us in Bangkok carrying a million litres of gasoline, I guarantee we will make Bangkok a sea of fire’ said one.
Arisamun is on the run with four others. Four red shirt leaders have been arrested.