News / Asia

Thai Appeals Court Acquits Police Major in Lawyer’s Disappearance

A Thai-Muslim woman activist holds a book with the cover showing a photo of missing Thai lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit (file photo)
A Thai-Muslim woman activist holds a book with the cover showing a photo of missing Thai lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit (file photo)
Ron Corben

A Thai court has acquitted the last policeman accused of involvement in the disappearance of a leading Thai Muslim human rights lawyer seven years ago. The lawyer’s family has vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court.

A Thai appeals court Friday acquitted a police major of charges of robbery and forced detention of Muslim human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit in 2004.

But Police Major Ngern Thongsuk was not in court to hear the verdict. Relatives say he was swept away in a mudslide near his home in Phitsanulok province in 2008.

Major Ngern and four other crime suppression division officers had been charged with robbery and kidnapping in the disappearance of Somchai in March 2004. While four others were acquitted by lower courts, Major Ngern was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.

Despite investigations by successive governments, Somchai’s whereabouts remain unknown, and his body has never been recovered.

He disappeared just three weeks after he accused members of the Thai military of involvement in a raid in Southern Thailand on an army depot in early 2004.

Somchai had claimed five Muslim men, arrested for their alleged links with the depot raid, were all innocent and had been tortured in prison.

Angkhana Neelapaichit, Somchai’s wife, says the family will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.

"Although at the end I have lost, but why justice system doesn’t give me the opportunity to fight? It seems that I have been cut off from the justice system, from the fight for justice although the (Thai) constitution allows all persons to access justice. I’m really serious about this issue," said Angkhana Neelapaichit.

The Somchai case has been seen as a test of Thailand’s human rights performance in the troubled southern provinces beset by a Muslim insurgency that, since 2004, has claimed over four thousand lives.

Current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, soon after coming to power, had promised progress in the investigation of the case. Human rights lawyers warned that haste in settling the case could mean insufficient evidence would be presented to the court.

In acquitting Major Ngern, the judges said the plaintiffs had presented confusing statements of evidence and failed to convince the court the policeman had committed the offences as charged.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs