A leading human rights legal group is looking to pursue other legal actions against a paramilitary ranger unit in southern Thailand for the disappearance of a school caretaker, Mayateh Marano, who was forcibly taken in for questioning last year and has not been seen since.
Mayateh was last seen on June 24, 2007 when a group of paramilitary from the Paramilitary Unit 41, stationed in Bannang Sata Intacharat School in Yala, came over his house and forcibly detained him. Col. Tim Ruantoh is the commander of the unit.
On August 20, 2008, more than a year after her husband was taken in, Mayateh’s wife submitted a petition under Section 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code to the Provincial Court in Yala. She requested the Court to conduct an enquiry into the whereabouts of Mayateh.
The court is scheduled to give its verdict on November 27.
According to a spokesperson from the Access to Justice and Legal Protection Project, Thailand has not ratified the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Although enforced disappearances is not a specific offence under the criminal law of Thailand, other legal channels have not been exhausted, a spokesperson at Access said.
Investigation by Access also claimed the officers confiscated Mayateh’s car, his registered handgun and mobile phone when they stormed his residence in Tambon Bachoh in Yala’s Raman district where he live with his wife and two children.
In the course of the investigation and court preceding, the army at first denied any knowledge about Mayateh but later said he was ‘invited’ to the base of Paramilitary Unit 41 for questioning on June 24, 2007.
The army told the court that Mayateh had some information about insurgent activities in the area and would like to provide information to the authorities. But because he was afraid of retribution from the insurgents, Mayateh requested that the local ranger unit conducted the search and arrest to make it seems that he was taken in legitimately.
Another account from a ranger said Colonel Tim wanted to have tea with Mayateh, thus, the decision to “invite” him and released him the same day.
Access and Mayateh’s wife dismissed the army’s explanation and demanded official explanation and justice into his disappearance.
Access pointed out Mayateh’s house is only five kilometres away from the Paramilitary Unit 41 and questioned as to how he could have disappeared if he was in fact released the same day he was taken in.
“If the paramilitary unit enacted a ‘role play’ of arrest just to protect Mayateh from being targeted by insurgents for helping the state, should they not have taken more efforts to ensure his safety?” Access asked.