Thai version: 2009_12_20_Statement on the missing case_Mr. Abduloh Abukaree_ Thai version    

 Immediate Released on 20 December 2000

Public Statement

The disappearance of Mr. Abduloh Abukaree, a grave jeopardy to a key criminal case

All parties must be held responsible for safety of the witnesses

 

          It was reported that on the night of 11 December 2009, Mr. Abduloh Abukaree went missing while returning from a teashop, not far a way from his home in Ra-ngae district, Narathiwat Province. His disappearance has been reported by his relatives to the Ra-ngae Police Station already. 

Mr. Abduloh Abukaree is a key witness in a case initiated by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) against ten high ranking police officials. The officials were accused of torturing and inflicting physical abuse against the clients of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit. Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit’s clients were alleged offenders in the gun robbery case taking place at the Narathiwat Rajanagarind (Pileng) Army Camp in Narathiwat on 4 January 2004. They were allegedly tortured and forced to confess to the charge. The torture case is being investigated by the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC). 

          Mr. Somchai Homlaor, a lawyer and Chairperson of the Cross Cultural Foundation stated that “According to intelligence from local area and news reports, though the reason for the disappearance of Mr. Abduloh Abukaree has not been made clear, if so this is the disappearance of a witness in an important criminal case in which a number of high ranking police officials were accused of causing breaches to the justice process and he has disappeared while being subjected to witness protection program of the government. His disappearance shall render a grave jeopardy to the case and the overall justice system. It simply reiterates the déjà vu of state official impunity among public, particularly the failed attempts to bring high ranking police officials to justice in Thailand.”

Related to the gun robbery case are the enforced disappearance case of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit and the torture of alleged offenders in the gun rubbery case to force them to make a confession. Both cases have gravely eroded trust among our sisters and brothers in the Southern border provinces and have done much disservice to Thailand’s rule of law. Should the Thai government fail to solve the cases and restore trust in the justice process among Thai public and to convince them that the Thai justice process can bring about justice fairly, promptly and effectively to all peoples in Thailand regardless of their race and ethnicity and that all parties shall be treated equally and indiscriminately under the law and in compliance with human rights principle, the Thai state and Thai society at large then have to admit to this total failure  and defeat in their attempts to untangle unrest in the Southern border provinces. 

            In 2005, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under Ministry of Justice accepted to take the disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit as a special case and later wrote a report based on the complaints of the alleged offenders in the gun robbery case, all of whom were represented by Lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, and submitted the report to the NCCC for further investigation and hearing. The result from the NCCC inquiry may land the ten high ranking police officials in criminal trials. While the NCCC inquiry is going on, the two Police Generals among those the inquiry is being made against have filed two complaints against Mr. Sudi-Rueman Mah-Lae, a witness in the case for an offence against state officials at the Bangkok Criminal Court. The Court decided to dismiss one of the complaints against Mr. Sudi-Rueman Mah-Lae in September 2009, while decision on another case is being put off to until after the preliminary hearing in March 2010. It also appears that all along the witnesses and injured parties in this torture case and their families have been living under intimidation and threats. 

            Though Mr. Abdulah Abukaree was not sued by the high ranking police officials, but he, Mr. Sudi-Rueman Mah-Lae, and Mr.Mana-Sae Mah-Ma have been witnesses under DSI’s witness protection program. Mr. Abduloh Abukaree has returned to his hometown during the Muslim New Year in November 2009 and has not come back to the house provided for by DSI and gone disappeared on 11 December 2009. According to the regulations of the witness protection program, should he want to go to other places in the South or to his hometown for whatever reasons, he shall not be provided with any protection. Such a regulation gravely compromises the efforts to provide due protection to witnesses.   

Mr. Somchai further stated that “We therefore demand that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and concerned agencies, particularly, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which provides witness protection and the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) which is conducting an inquiry on the torture case in which Mr. Abdulah Abukaree was supposed to testify as a witness in the Court for several years until he went disappeared recently, show their genuine responsibility for the incidence. The government, DSI, and security agencies have to work in earnest to shed light on the plight of the disappeared witness promptly and report the findings to public. Improvement regarding financial and human resources in the witness protection program has to be carried out to ensure its efficiency. And again, a call is being made for NCCC to accelerate the inquiry process in the torture case which has started since two years ago in order to prevent any potential damage to the case.”

 

            For more information, please contact Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Tel.66-1-899 5476