UPDATE (Thailand): Landmark trial to begin of policemen who illegally arrested and dispersed protestors six years ago


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-015-2009
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Freedom of assembly, Judicial system, Rule of law,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that the provincial court in Songkhla, Southern Thailand is set to hear the case against a group of policemen on 24 June 2009, after pending for six years. It is a landmark complaint—the first ever to be filed against policemen in the country—and has been filed by a group of protestors who were arrested and dispersed during a demonstration against a pipeline project on 20 December 2002. The AHRC requests that you attend the hearing as court observers. 

UPDATED INFORMATION: (According to information received from The Group Against the Thai-Malaysian Natural Gas Pipe-Line and Separation Plant) 

In our previous appeal AHRC- UA-279-2007, we mentioned that on 20 December 2002, twenty protestors, including villagers and staff of a non-governmental organization (NGO), were holding a peaceful demonstration in Hadyai district, Songkhla province to oppose the Thai-Malaysian Gas Pipe-line project. While the protesters waited for a response from the government to their demands, (a cabinet meeting was supposed to take place in Hadyai the following day) the policemen began arresting and dispersing them. 

During the incident 12 NGO staff were arrested and the policemen either destroyed or seized eight cars owned by the NGO staff and villagers. Thirty two villagers were also later arrested on the basis of court warrants for eight criminal charges filed against them. The protestors suffered injuries due to police beatings. 

On 31 August 2007 the First Court of Appeal affirmed the local court’s decision (in December 2004) that the protesters were not guilty of: illegal assembly, damaging public property, carrying arms without permission, conspiring with more than ten persons to create a disturbance or do an act of violence, failing to disperse when ordered or assaulting government officials. 

The decision also allowed that the police had cracked down on the protestors as they were holding a peaceful demonstration. This case has been pending before the Supreme Court because the prosecutor appealed the appellate court’s decision. For more details about this case: see UA-279-2007Human rights judgments under the 1997 Constitution of Thailand and Thailand’s struggle for constitutional survival (PDF). 

The 25 protesters mentioned below– including 13 villagers and 12 NGO staff members–filed criminal charges against the officers involved before the Songkhla Provincial Court, where the case is now being heard. Those charged were six high ranking police officers of the Royal Thai Police and 31 of their subordinates. 

The three charges against the officers under the Criminal Code are: the wrongful exercise of or the non-exercise of authority (section 157), an offence against religion by disturbing an assembly of lawfully assembled religion persons engaged in worship (section 207) and assault (section 295). After six years the appellate court accepted the charges under sections 157 and 295 and the trial will begin on 24 June 2009. 


The protestors also filed for compensation against the Royal Thai Police at the Songkhla Administrative Court, based on the violation of the right to assembly, and at the Songkhla Magistrates’ Court based on injury and damage to property. The Songkhla Administrative Court has already ordered the Royal Thai Police to pay Baht 10,000 worth of compensation to 30 protestors. 

The petition for compensation at the Songkhla Magistrate’s Court for civil law however remains pending, since the court must wait for the conclusion of the criminal case. The successful filing of the complaint for compensation and of criminal charges against policemen is a landmark for Thailand; the first case to ever be filed against policemen. 


Case No.: 
Black Case No. 1313/2546 (B.E.) 
Songkhla provincial Court, Pra-tha Road, Boryang sub-district, Mueang Songkhla district, Songkhla province, southern Thailand 
The 25 protestors include 13 villagers from Jana district, Songkhla province which are: 
1. Mr. Sakkariya Mhawhang-aed 
2. Mr. Salee Maprasith 
3. Ms. Maliya Heemmuden 
4. Mr. Maae Phrom-in 
5. Mr. Torhed Sen-a-lameen 
6. Mr. Korbed Mhadmhoa 
7. Mr. Muhammhadkataree Mahaji 
8. Mr. Viroj Sa-u 
9. Mr. Rofad Hadyumsa 
10. Mr. Soa Lhamsoa 
11. Mr. Vittawat Ma-dae 
12. Mr. Rorden Mhaprasith 
13. Ms. Khor Lhemnui 

The 12 NGO staff from several organisations are: 
14. Mr. Banjong Na-sae 
15. Mr. Kittipop Sutthisawang 
16. Ms. Suppawan Chanasongkhram 
17. Ms. Tassanee Rungreoung 
18. Mr. Taradon Mhadleid 
19. Ms. Natthawan Issaratha 
20. Ms. Jutha Sangkhachart 
21. Ms. Issara Jiemwittayakul 
22. Ms. Surat Sae-jung 
23. Mr. Sinthu Keawsinth 
24. Mr. Santi Sangphud 
25. Mr. Rachata Wattanasak 

Lawyers of the complainants: 
Eight lawyers from the Lawyers Council of Thailand 

Names of policemen charged: 
1. Pol. Gen. (Police General) Sant Sarutanonda was Commissioner-General of Royal Thai Police 
2. Pol. Maj. Gen. (Police Major General) Santhan Chayanon 
3. Pol. Col. (Police Colonel) Surachai Suebsuk 
4. Pol. Lt. Col. (Police Lieutenant Colonel) Lek Meeyoung 
5. Pol. Maj. (Police Major) Bunthoon Boonkreur 
6. Pol. Maj. Athichai Somboon 

Lawyers of the policemen charged
6 Prosecutors from several Offices of the Attorney General 

Criminal Code Section 157: Whoever, being an official, wrongfully exercises or does not exercise any of his function to the injury of any person, or dishonestly exercises or omits to exercise any of his functions, shall be punished with imprisonment of one to ten years or fined from two thousand to twenty thousand Baht, or both. 

Section 295 Whoever causes injury to the other person in body or mind is said to commit bodily harm, and shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years, or fined not exceeding four thousand Baht, or both. 

Trial dates:
Plaintiffs witness trial for 11 days: 
June 24 – 26, 2009 
July 15 – 17, 2009 
August 13 – 14, 2009 
September 2 – 4, 2009 

Defendants witness trial for 35 days; 
September 28 – 30, 2009 
October 7 – 9 and 28 – 30, 2009 
November 18 – 20, 2009 
December 16 – 18, 2009 
January 20 – 22, 2010 
February 10 – 12, 2010 
March 3 – 5 and 24 – 26, 2010 
April 7 – 9 and 28 – 30, 2010 
May 20 – 21, 2010 

9am to 4:30pm daily 

For more information, please contact: 

Ms. Suppawan Chanasongkhram (in Thai) 
Phone no.:+66 81 608 2229 
E-mail: gazza2549@gmail.com 

Ms. Sor. Rattanamanee Polkla (in Thai and English) 
Phone no.:+66 81 772 5843 
E-mail: sor.rattana@ahrc.asia 

Thank you 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia) 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-015-2009
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Administration of justice, Freedom of assembly, Judicial system, Rule of law,