Criminal Black Case No. 561/2560 “Budu Bomb Case”: Call for Trial Observation
On 31 July 2018, there will be a hearing of evidence held at Court Room No. 808 at the Criminal Court in Bangkok. There will be a cross examine session of Pol Lt Col Duangmanee Phannak, a police investigator attached to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), testifies as the 36th and the final prosecution witness and followed by the hearings of 14 defendants continues on 1,2 and 3 Aug 2018.
Fourteen young men in their early 20s and 30s have been arrested and charged for suspected involvement in plotting bomb attacks in Bangkok and outskirts in October 2016. The men, who are native to Narathiwat and Pattani provinces in Thailand’s restive South, are currently facing trial on the charges of being members of a secret society and criminal association, which carries a maximum penalty of death, and illegal possession of explosive devices. If found guilty, the highest punishment for these offences is death penalty.
The Criminal Black Case No. 561/2560 also known as “Budu Bomb Case” because during a police raid at the suspects’ rented room in October 2016, they found only budu fish sauce and other food stuff, but no explosive devices was found.
In concluding her testimony, Pol Lt Col Duangmanee said the CSD viewed that the record of questioning and additional evidence that NCPO offcier Maj-Gen Wijarn and the Special Branch Police submitted to the CSD were credible.
Citing Maj-Gen Wijarn’s statement and information from Col Chatchapol Sawangchote, deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command’s Peace Operations Center, Pol Lt Col Duangmanee said BRN movement recruits’ the youth to become their members. These youths will undergo militant trainings, take part in oath-taking ceremony, and learn about Patani history. BRN has four teams in an operation—Commander team; Technician team, Operation team; and Logistic team.
The facts and evidence that the police investigators obtained during the interrogations of the suspects and the examination of the scenes, resemble the information about the BRN movement as understood by military officers. It is believed that the suspects are members of BRN militant group, Pol Lt Col Duangmanee said.
The court set 31 July 2018 for cross-examination of the final witness for the prosecution (Pol Lt Col Duangmanee), followed by the hearing of defendant witnesses between 31 July to 3 August, 2018. According to the defendants’ lawyer team, all 14 defendants and 8 witnesses will give testimony to the court on 1-3 Aug 2018.
Background of the case:
On 10 October 2016, a joint police-military task force raided multiple locations in Bangkok and outskirt areas following reports of a suspected car bombing plot. They arrested at least 50 Malay Muslim people, including 42 men and 8 women. Most of them are Ramkamhaeng University students. The operations were authorized by the NCPO head order issued under Article 44 of the Interim Constitution.
Aged between the early 30s to early 20s, most of the arrested students and young workers were released shortly after the raids, but at least 13 faced further detention, including 8 persons at the 11th Military Circle and 6 persons at Hua Mak Police Station at the time of arrest. Most of detainees from Si Sakhon district of Narathiwat and some from Pattani, provinces in the Deep South; many of them come from the same villages. Economic hardship in the Deep South, partly caused by low rubber price, forced them to travel to Bangkok to find jobs. Most of them ended up working as shopkeepers in Bangkok and peripheral provinces.
After the arrest, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has assisted them and called for the release of the detainees. The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) supported the families of the arrested students to travel to Bangkok. However, the family members were not given granted any contact with the detainees. The detainees were later transported and detained at Ingkhayutthaborihan military camp in Pattani’s Nong Chik district and Narathiwat Task Force 46 in Narathiwat province.
All of them were released after being detained for 7 days under the Martial Law. About a month later, in November and Dec 2016, military officers in the Deep South 14 young men re-arrested or presented themselves to the police after the Criminal Court approved the issuance of arrest warrants against them on charges relating to national security and related charges in Bangkok Criminal
They have been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison since Nov. or Dec 2016, now around one year 8 months. The families could not afford to bail them out because the bail amount set by the court is very high. The lawyers have also suggested that the court might not allow those held on national security charges to be bailed out. The Muslim Attorney Center in Bangkok has provided legal assistance to the defendants free of charge.