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Thai court finds man guilty in military hospital bombing

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BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court sentenced a man to 27 years in prison on Wednesday for bombing a military hospital in what he said was an act of resistance to the country's ruling junta.

The Criminal Court found Wattana Pumret , 61, guilty of attempted premeditated murder, detonating a bomb and other charges linked to the blast that wounded 21 people at the Bangkok hospital. The attack took place on May 22, the third anniversary of a military coup that ousted the country's elected government.

Wattana, a retired electrical engineer for a state enterprise, pleaded guilty to the charges and admitted placing the bomb in a flower vase in the hospital's waiting room.

Wattana said at a police news conference in June that he bombed the hospital to defy military rule but didn't intend to harm anyone. He denied that he had any connections to the ousted government, which some security officials had implied.

The ruling comes as the junta is facing increased pressure to lift a ban on political activities in place since the coup and to finally allow for elections after repeated delays. The junta has said the ban is still needed in order to maintain security in the country and has said that elections can't be held if there is unrest.

Police last week found a stash of weapons they said they suspect belongs to supporters of the ousted government. That has led to concerns that the military could extend its rule once again.

Prawit Wongsuwan, a junta member and deputy prime minister, said Wednesday that reporters could "figure it out for yourselves" whether the discovered weapons were a good enough reason to keep the ban on politics in place. He denied accusations that the weapons discovery was a government setup.

"Our officials are straightforward workers," Prawit said.

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