UPDATE(Thailand): Inquest into custodial death of Yapa opens in Narathiwas


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-038-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Death in custody, Impunity, State of emergency & martial law, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed by the Muslim Attorney Center (MAC) that the first inquest day regarding the death of Imam Yapa in Narathiwat, southern Thailand. He was allegedly tortured to death in a military camp on 21 March 2008. The trial will open in Narathiwas provincial court. The AHRC requests you to attend the court as observers.


As earlier reported in the case of death of Yapa Koseng (See further: AHRC-UAU-017-2008, AHRC-UAC-055-2008), this case was held by the Ruesoh Police Station and the autopsy file was sent to the Narathiwas provincial court on May 15 by way of a public prosecutor after his motion. The case number is Black Chor 9/2551.

According to the information newly obtained, the Narathiwas public prosecutor applied a motion that the police and military arrested Yapa with 6 other suspects under Martial law. The suspects were taken to the military camp of special task force number 39 based in Moo 2, Ruesohnok Sub-Distirct, Ruesoh Distirct of Narathiwat Province. In the camp, all were detained in a 6 wheel truck.

Public prosecutor revealed in the motion that second Lieutenant Siriket Wanichbamrung held the key of the truck and Major Wicha Phootong acted on behalf of the commander of the special task force. While in detention, from March 20 to 21, Yapa was interrogated many times. At 6:30am on March 21, Yapa died while he was in the truck.

After his death, police officers and other official agencies including a district governor and doctor were organised to make an inquiry, which was required under the Criminal Procedure Code. The autopsy report said that the cause of Yapa’s death was found to be ‘blunt force trauma’ (medical term referred to a type of physical trauma) which was caused by fracture of ribs following ‘traumatic pneumothorax’. The public prosecutor requested the Court to make an inquest in order to examine and enquire as to who the deceased was and the place, item, cause and circumstances of such death according to the section 150 of Criminal Procedure Code.

However, there was no explanation regarding the identity of the alleged offender in the prosecutor’s motion, even the same section stipulated as “if death was caused by the act of any person, it shall be stated, as far as it could be ascertained, who the alleged offender was”.

In addition, according to the same section, before the completion of examination, relatives of the deceased are entitled to apply by motion to the Court for examining the witnesses adduced by the public prosecutor and adducing other witnesses. As following this section, Yapa’s relative will apply by motion to the Court.

The examination of this case will be conducted at 9am on June 30 in Narathiwas provincial court.

For further details, please contact Pornpen Khongkhachonkiet, Cross Culture Foundation, by her office (+66) 2 693 4939 or by her mobile (+66) 816824013.


This case is neither first case of custodial death nor case of death caused by torture in Thailand. We have reported similar cases in the past regarding death after being tortured in custody in the region (UA-237-2007).

There are similar incident like the case of Krue Se Mosque where 28 persons were found dead inside the mosque on 28 April 2004 (see UA-398-2006 and UP-028-2007). This case is finished. During the court trial, judge found those responsible involved in the death but the public prosecutor failed to prosecute them or start investigation on those responsible.

Another case is the Tak Bai incident in which seven were shot dead and a thousand persons arrested in October 2004. Seventy eight arrestees were died of suffocation while being transferred to the custody (AHRC-OL-060-2006). The case is under the court trial for the post-mortem and postponed until November 2008.

Torture is by no means limited to the south of Thailand, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is widely practiced both by the police and the army across the country. Due to the lack of a law to prohibit torture and no effective victim and witness protection in Thailand, the alleged perpetrators easily intimidate victims not to make complaints, or to withdraw them later. See for example the following cases: UA-410-2006; UA-233-2006; UP-157-2005; UP-137-2005; UP-088-2005.

This case also shows how the Emergency Decree results in torture and other serious human rights abuses. (Please refer to: UA-144-2007; AS-024-2007; AS-255-2006; UA-111-2007; UA-034-2007; UA-348-2006)

Please refer to our earlier appeals and sample letters for further information and action.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org) 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-038-2008
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Death in custody, Impunity, State of emergency & martial law, Torture,