Criminal Tak Bai suits likely
By: ERIKA FRY and POST REPORTERS
Bagkok Post_Published: 31/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: NewsSONGKHLA : Relatives of the Tak Bai victims can still file criminal lawsuits against state officials responsible for the 2004 fatal crackdown on Muslim protesters, although Friday’s court ruling had exonerated them from any wrongdoing.

Rasada Manu-Rasada, one of the attorneys provided by the Lawyers Council of Thailand to represent the relatives of the victims, said although the Songkhla provincial court had ruled in favour of the officials, the law does not forbid victims or their relatives from filing criminal charges against the officials themselves.

“The relatives have been informed of this option. They will need some time to think about it,” said Mr Rasada.

The working group which has been providing legal assistance to the villagers would discuss how to continue their assistance in the case which has a statutory limit of 20 years.

The court ruled that members of the military were just carrying out their duty and could not be blamed for what had happened. It noted that members of the security forces were acting under an emergency law at the time which protected them from civil, criminal or disciplinary liabilities arising from their actions while performing their duty.

Seven people were killed in a mosque during the Oct 25, 2004 crackdown and another 78 suffocated to death while they were being transported on trucks taking them to an army camp for detention in neighbouring Pattani province.

Mat, the father of one of the victims, said he was not satisfied with the court’s explanation.

He said he was not expecting “a beautiful ruling,” but at least hoping “to hear something more reasonable and just. My heart just sank.”

One teary-eyed woman who had lost her husband in the incident said: “It’s like the court did not record what we told them. What about forensic evidence? The gunshot wounds and bruising? If they were just standing in a truck for 10 hours, there wouldn’t have been this sort of stuff.”

Human rights activists present in the courtroom were also appalled by the reasoning. “The judgement shows very clearly the culture of impunity that exists, and encourages it,” said Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a human rights advocate.

 

Court clears military in Tak Bai case

Security forces were ‘just doing their duty’

By: DPA, BANGKOK POST and BangokPost.com

Published: 30/05/2009 at 12:00 AM

Newspaper section: News

The Songkhla Provincial Court has cleared security officials of misconduct in connection with the Tak Bai incident in which 85 demonstrators were killed in October of 2004.

The court ruled that members of the military were just carrying out their duty and could not be blamed for what had happened.

Seven people were killed in a mosque during the crackdown and another 78 demonstrators suffocated to death while they were being transported on trucks taking them to an army camp for detention in neighbouring Pattani province.

More than 1,000 people rallied outside the Tak Bai police station in Narathiwat to demand the release of six village defence volunteers they believed were unfairly detained. The suspects were suspected of having lied to police to protect those involved in a firearms robbery in which state weapons were stolen.

The court said there was no evidence to support the theory that some men in uniform who allegedly assaulted the demonstrators were acting on the orders of their superiors in charge of the crackdown.

Judge Yingyut Tanor-Rachin, who sat with Judge Jutarath Santisevee, said the officials were carrying out their duties and had compelling reasons to transport over 1,000 detained demonstrators from Tak Bai at the Thai-Malaysia border to Ingkayuthaborihaan Army Camp in Pattani on Oct 25, 2004.

Basing its ruling on a post-mortem inquest into the deaths, the court noted that members of the security forces were acting under an emergency law at the time which protected them from civil, criminal or disciplinary liabilities arising from their actions while performing their duty.

On Oct 25, 2004, soldiers cracked down on thousands of demonstrators rallying outside the Tak Bai police station with tear gas, water cannon and batons.

Some 1,292 persons were arrested and detained by the authorities. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), those detained were beaten with batons, kicked and punched, some whilst lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

The detained persons were then loaded into a trucks where they were piled up in many layers and transferred to Ingkayuthaborihaan army camp in Pattani, a journey which took several hours. A total of 78 people were found dead in the trucks in the incident that occurred during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“The relatives of the victims are not satisfied with the court ruling,” said Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairwoman of the Working Group for Justice and Peace.

“But they can’t do anything. All they can do is walk away,” she said, adding that some were expected to appeal the verdict.

Human rights advocates following up on the Tak Bai case were also present in the court yesterday.

Many of the relatives who travelled hundreds of kilometres from their hometowns to hear the court decision said they were shocked by the outcome of the trial.

The case was moved to Songkhla province after the families of the victims and the authorities agreed that the trial should be held outside of Narathiwat and Pattani for security reasons.

Meanwhile, a local leader was shot dead in broad daylight in Pattani’s Muang district yesterday.

Waedolor Hayee Sorhor, deputy chairman of the Tanyonglulor tambon administration organisation (TAO) in Pattani, was gunned down in front of his house shortly after returning from a mosque. He was attacked by four motorcycle riders. Two schoolboys passing by the area sustained minor injuries in the attack.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/17583/court-clears-military-in-tak-bai-case

 

May 29, 2009 15:58 PM

Thai Court Clears Security Officials Of Misconduct In Tak Bai Case

By D. Arul Rajoo SONGKHLA, May 29 (Bernama) — Nearly five years after the Tak Bai incident that caused the death of 85 Muslim demonstrators and was seen as one of the triggering points in the Southern Thai conflict, a Thai court has ruled that there was no misconduct on the part of security officials.

 

The two-member panel on the post-mortem inquest concluded that army and police officials acted according to the law, used their judgment to deal with the pressing situation and did their best based on the circumstances of the situation then.

 

Judge Yingyut Tanor-Rachin, who sat with Judge Jutarath Santisevee, said the officials were carrying out their duties and had compelling reasons to transport over 1,000 detained demonstrators from Tak Bai at the Thai-Malaysia border to Ingkayuthaborihaan Army Camp in Pattani on Oct 25, 2004.

 

The incident happened when over 1,500 people took part in a demonstration in front of the Tak Bai Police Station to demand the release of six village defence volunteers who were detained on suspicion of filing false reports to the police concerning a robbery of government-issued shotguns.

 

m protesters, although Friday’s court ruling had exonerated them from any wrongdoing.

Rasada Manu-Rasada, one of the attorneys provided by the Lawyers Council of Thailand to represent the relatives of the victims, said although the Songkhla provincial court had ruled in favour of the officials, the law does not forbid victims or their relatives from filing criminal charges against the officials themselves.

“The relatives have been informed of this option. They will need some time to think about it,” said Mr Rasada.

The working group which has been providing legal assistance to the villagers would discuss how to continue their assistance in the case which has a statutory limit of 20 years.

The court ruled that members of the military were just carrying out their duty and could not be blamed for what had happened. It noted that members of the security forces were acting under an emergency law at the time which protected them from civil, criminal or disciplinary liabilities arising from their actions while performing their duty.

Seven people were killed in a mosque during the Oct 25, 2004 crackdown and another 78 suffocated to death while they were being transported on trucks taking them to an army camp for detention in neighbouring Pattani province.

Mat, the father of one of the victims, said he was not satisfied with the court’s explanation.

He said he was not expecting “a beautiful ruling,” but at least hoping “to hear something more reasonable and just. My heart just sank.”

One teary-eyed woman who had lost her husband in the incident said: “It’s like the court did not record what we told them. What about forensic evidence? The gunshot wounds and bruising? If they were just standing in a truck for 10 hours, there wouldn’t have been this sort of stuff.”

Human rights activists present in the courtroom were also appalled by the reasoning. “The judgement shows very clearly the culture of impunity that exists, and encourages it,” said Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a human rights advocate.