English version released on 26 May 2019
Press Release: Prachinburi Provincial Court to take evidence from Ritthirong, a torture victim on 27 May 2019 in a retaliatory lawsuit filed by the police 10 years after incident
The police senior sergeant major accused Mr. Ritthirong, a torture victims of false accusation in this new lawsuit (Black Case No. O1285/2561), and falsifying his court testimonies related to torture allegation against the police officer given on 2 November 2015.
On 23 May 2019, Mr. Somsak Chuenchit, the father of Mr. Ritthirong Chuanjit, has applied for his bail at the Prachinburi Provincial Court by depositing the amount of 100,000 baht as bail bond. Mr. Ritthirong’s release was subsequently granted.
“As Ritthirong has been tortured. My son and I have to struggle hard to seek justice; we have filed complaints with a number of authorities including the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) in the past eight years in vain. It made me feel almost hopeless with the justice process. It was very devastating for me. Then, I received help from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) which has offered me legal representation and helped to take Ritthirong to file the case with the Court. The Lower Court has already convicted a police officer from Prachinbui for committing torture,” said Mr. Somsak.
The Prachinburi Provincial Court held a preliminary hearing and inquired the police senior sergeant major as a witness on 25 February 2019. The police senior sergeant major from the Muang Prachinburi Police Station filed a complaint against Mr. Ritthirong since 17 July 2018. During the inquiry, he claimed that Mr. Ritthirong lied to the Court that he was slapped by the plaintiff on the head while held in custody on 28 January 2009. He also stated that the previous lawsuit (Black Case No. O925/2558) was initiated based on Mr. Ritthirong’s false accusation.
The police officer argued to the Court that these actions constitute a violation of the Criminal Code’s Article 175 and Article 177 which prohibit reporting false allegations and giving false court testimonies respectively. On 27 March 2019, the Court accepted to review this case and scheduled the next hearing on 27 May 2019.
This lawsuit (Black Case No. O1285/2561) stemmed from a previous torture incident in which this police senior sergeant major, along with six other officers of the same police station, had been accused of torturing Mr. Ritthirong to extract confession about a robbery incident that happened in their area of responsibility (Black Case No. O925/2558). The event happened on 29 Jan 2009, more than 10 years ago.
On the torture incident, Mr. Ritthirong decided to file the case with Prachinburi Provincial Court since 10 June 2015, accusing the seven police officers of physically abusing him by violently hitting him in the head, thereby causing him great physical and mental sufferings.
In 2018, the Prachinburi Provincial Court convicted one of the police officers yet acquitted the other six defendants, including this police senior sergeant major who was Defendant No.7 in this case, from the primary inquiry.
It must be noted that the Court determined that the six officers did commit torture while holding Mr. Ritthirong in custody but such torture merely resulted in a “minor injury.” The Court, therefore, ruled that the statute of limitation for this case could last only for one year. Given that the incident took place in January 2009, the Court could not convict the six defendants.
Mr. Somsak Chuanjit, the father of torture victim added, “I never expected that my son, who fell victim to atrocious torture, would end up becoming a defendant in this kind of retaliatory lawsuit. It has aggrieved him so much. My wife and I always try to show him support to encourage him to establish the truth in this case”
Mr. Somsak then affirmed, “My son’s testimony- both to the Court and the PACC- about being slapped in the head is a fact. The Court acquitted this police senior sergeant major because his statute of limitation expired, not because they ruled that he did not slap my son’s head.”
In addition, Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), said, “Thailand has signed the Convention Against Torture since 2007 and has obligations to protect individuals against torture and ensure torture victims have the right to complain with competent state officials. Therefore, Mr. Ritthirong as a complainant should warrant protection against intimidation and reprisal. The ongoing judicial harassment by the police official, who is the alleged perpetrator of torture against Mr. Ritthirong, constitutes a breach of such international legal obligations and can create a chilling effect for other victims of torture; it could discourage them from speaking out and demanding justice and accountability. This will do a disservice to Thailand’s image concerning its human rights situations.”
The Prachinburi Provincial Court’s hearing to take evidence from Mr. Ritthirong will take place on 27 May 2019 at 9:00 am.