Torture, confessions and sentencing

5 09 2015

Prachatai reports that the “Criminal Court sentenced four people accused of shooting grenades into People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in early 2014 to death, but reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.” When arrested, there were inconsistencies in the claims made by authorities.

The court convicted Chatchawan Prabbamrung, Somsri Marit, Sunthorn Pipuannog and Tweechai Wichakam, said to be red shirts, “of murder and possessions of weapons of war, including, carrying illegal weapons in public.” It was alleged that the four used an:

M79 grenade launcher to shoot into the crowd of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in front of Big C Department Store of Ratchaprasong Intersection in central Bangkok on the evening of 23 February 2014, resulting in the deaths of an adult and two children, including, 21 injured nine of whom suffered severe injuries.

Readers may recall that the “confessions” were provided under conditions that the defendants and their families stated included torture. They claimed to have been subjected to “electric shocks to the genitals, suffocation, and continuous beatings all night.”

Readers may wonder how the court dealt with “confessions” said to have been obtained under alleged torture. As Prachatai reports it, the “court dismissed the allegation that the four were tortured into confessing, saying that according to Pol Col Akkaradech Pimonsri, the four were not tortured during the interrogation.”

Yes, the court accepted a statement by the representative of those accused of engaging in the alleged torture. If the police say it didn’t happen, then it didn’t. One might be taken aback and see this as emblematic of Thailand under the military dictatorship.

In fact, torture is standard procedure by the military and police under dictatorship or elected regime.


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