Lower Court convicting nine of 14 defendants in “Budu bomb” case while acquitting five
Today (25 September 2018 2018) at Room no. 808, the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, the court ruled in the Black Case no. 561/2560 against 14 defendants in the ‘Budu Bomb case’.
The defendants, aged between 19-32 years, and from the provinces of Narathiwat and Pattani, had been charged for being being members of a “secret society”, and for conspiracy and illegal possession of explosive devices.
These charges stemmed from an allegation that they had been involved with a plan to carry out bomb attacks in Bangkok and Samut Prakan in October 2016.
The Court convicted nine defendants for breaches of the Penal Code’s Section 209 (being a member of secret society) and Section 210 (conspiracy) and sentenced them to three years of imprisonment for each count, altogether six years each. Given that their evidence had been found useful during the trial, the imprisonment was reduced to two years for each count. All together the following defendants would be serving four years each;
Defendant no. 1 Mr. Talmizi Toetayong
Defendant no. 2 Mr. Abdulbazir Suekaji
Defendant no. 3 Mr. Mubahri Kana
Defendant no. 4 Mr. Usman Kadenghayi
Defendant no. 9 Mr. Niheng Mayi
Defendant no. 10 Mr. Amri Ha
Defendant no. 11Mr. Nuraman Abue
Defendant no. 12 Mr. Muftadin Lalae
Defendant no. 13 Mr. Tuanhafit Duemungkapa
Only the defendant no. 3 was also found guilty for breaches of the Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation Firearms Act, as PETN explosive material was detected on his hand. He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.Given that his evidence had been found useful during the trial, his imprisonment was reduced to two years. Altogether with the conviction on being a member of secret society and conspiracy, he was sentenced to six years.
The other five defendants were acquitted, given that not sufficient evidence had been found to convict them. They are to be released from detention at the Bangkok Remand Prison today around 19.00. The defendants who were acquitted are:
Defendant no. 5 Mr. Mizi Jaeha
Defendant no. 6 Mr. Pathomphon Mihiae
Defendant no. 7 Amran Mayi
Defendant no. 8 Mr. Wirat Hami
Defendant no. 14 Mr. Muhammadzakariya Tamung
The reading of the verdict commenced around 10.30am and the court room was crowded with a number of relatives of the defendants, human rights activists, academics and media. The Court started from reading out a summary of plaint against the 14 defendants and explaining to the defendants and their relatives that the trial would not end just here as an appeal may be filed before the Supreme Court. In addition, the Court asked the 14 defendants again if they insisted on pleading ‘not guilty’, or if any of them decided to retract their word and plead guilty. All of them confirmed they pleaded not guilty.
Issues of Note in the verdict
- In the verdict, it mentions how the Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) has been formed since 1960 to perpetuate the cause for the secession of the three Southern Border Provinces and four districts of Songkhla. It further mentions insurgencies in the Southern Border Provinces, particularly in Sri Sakhon and Ra-ngae Districts in Narathiwat where most of the defendants were born. It even mentions the bomb attack carried out by Mr. Usman Jaengao, the person believed by the security force to be the mastermind of the bomb attack to be carried out in Ramkamhaeng and Samut Prakan, the incidence of which had led to the arrests of the 14 defendants. Mr. Usman is still at large.
- The Court gave much weight to the investigation reports prepared by the police, which were based on interrogations of the suspects when they were being held in military custody. The defendants also voluntarily led the officials to the crime scene including their rooms and the spot at which they allegedly disposed of explosive material. As to the claim by at least seven defendants that they had been subject to threats and torture while being held in custody and how they had been forced to give confessions, the Court found it not credible given that no physical injuries could be found on the suspects’ bodies and the defendants had not reported the case against the police for committing such physical abuse against them.
- The verdict goes on that it is natural that perpetrators of a terrorist act of this gravity would develop their plan very well and in secret. This would certainly make it challenging for the prosecution to acquire incriminating evidence or testimonies of eye witnesses to substantiate the accusations. Yet, it did not mean that the accusations did not carry weight.
The team of attorney from the Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) who have been offering legal representation to the defendants in this case are discussing with the defendants and their relatives about the possible motion of appeal which has to be filed within 30 days after the release of the full version of the verdict. The appeal motion is normally filed a couple weeks after reviewing the verdict.