THAILAND: Families demand real perpetrators of bus shooting be brought to justice 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-101-2004
Dear friends
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges you to voice your support for the parents of children killed and injured in an attack on a bus by armed men, who are demanding that the police investigate and arrest the real persons behind the attack. The family members claim that a police officer organised the shooting in June 2002 because of a personal conflict with the bus driver. However, a local villager has been set up as the culprit. Although the criminal court that heard the case found him innocent, the Office of the Attorney General is appealing against the decision. The parents want the prosecutors to drop the case, and instead for senior police to investigate and arrest the persons actually responsible for the attack.
The AHRC requests you to call on the responsible persons to see that justice is done in this case. Additionally, you are requested to call on the government of Thailand to establish an independent body to monitor and investigate complaints against the police, as no such agency exists at present. The lack of such an agency greatly inhibits the possibility of police being held accountable for their crimes.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
The parents of the children killed and injured in a shooting attack on a bus in Ratchaburi Province, Thailand, in 2002, have called on the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) of the Royal Thai Police to investigate a local police officer whom they allege was responsible for the attack.
Three children were killed, and 12 injured, when a group of men opened fire on the school bus with machine guns in June 2002. At the time, a minority villager by the name of Jobi was arrested and forced to admit to the attack. A court has since found him innocent, however, the Office of the Attorney General has chosen to appeal against the decision, despite widespread public acknowledgment that he was set up.
The families of the child victims have approached the CSD to claim that they knew all along that Jobi was innocent, and that the attack was organised by a local police officer that had a conflict with the driver of the bus over a karaoke bar. On August 9 they submitted documents to Police Colonel Somkuan Puengsup of the CSD containing their allegations and evidence against the Ratchaburi police officer, who has continued living in the area and holding his position in the police force since the attack.
“We want to see justice for our children, and since the Ratchaburi police won’t do anything, we have come to the CSD for assistance,” said Chalong Uthapao, father of one of the slain children, according to media reports. In response, Police Colonel Somkuan promised to send officers from CSD to investigate.
Meanwhile, the innocent victim of the police set-up, Jobi, has been kept in immigration detention after he was accused of being an illegal immigrant from Burma. Jobi claims that he was born in a village in the jungle near the border, where there was no proper registration of births and deaths by the Thai authorities. However, a number of local headmen are reported to have offered support for his claim. The case over his status is continuing, and he has been receiving treatment in hospital for illnesses he has suffered while in jail and in immigration detention, where he has been kept since he was arrested. It is believed that his legs may be permanently damaged as a result. His case attracted the attention of the Queen of Thailand, who is sponsoring his medical treatment.
In a recent interview, Jobi recalled how he was set him up, and threatened by the men believed hired for the killing. “I had to plead guilty because I was afraid,” he said. “They said they would kill me if I didn’t. And if I ran away, [they said] they would kill my wife and my children.” He was told that he would be freed if he did as the police told him. “I was told it was just an act [and] that the police would soon set me free so that I could return to my family,” he said. “But when they didn’t keep their promise, I decided to tell the truth that I didn’t do it.” If Jobi is found innocent, he may be able to claim compensation from the Ministry of Justice, however, as the case against him is pending in the Appeals Court, to date he has been unable to exercise this right.
The appeal by the families of the child victims in Ratchaburi comes at a time of seriously declining human rights conditions in Thailand (see earlier Urgent Appeals on Thailand during this year UA-73-2004UA-76-2004UA-91-2004UA-94-2004, Updated Appeals,  UP-14-2004UP-26-2004UP-31-2004UP-40-2004 and Forwarded Appeal FA-06-2004. See also the contents of the AHRC Thailand webpage, in Thai or English.) Most recently, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has released a report stating that the current administration of Thailand has brought a new level of authoritarianism to the country in recent times. However, the attack on the bus in Ratchaburi province in 2002 also speaks to deeper institutional problems that have persisted in law enforcement in Thailand for many decades. Police there have long been known to organise killings and fabricate cases with impunity, however, no independent agency exists to investigate allegations against police officers. This is despite the fact that under the 1997 Constitution, many other bodies have been established to monitor the actions of various departments of the civil administration. The CSD, to which the current case has been brought, is the highest investigating body, located in Bangkok. Although if the CSD takes up a case it is moved out of the hands of local officers who may be colluding to cover up their crimes, nonetheless, it is a part of the police department. As such, the CSD is still subject to the same overall controls and system of authority as the rest of the police force.
Please write to the Prime Minister of Thailand to urge that he ensure that the CSD intervene in this case to ensure that the alleged police officer and his accomplices are brought to justice, and the falsely accused man to be freed from the charges against him. Please also request that the Prime Minister take steps to see the establishment of an independent agency in Thailand to investigate and act upon complaints against police officers.

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Dear Mr Prime Minister
Re: Call for justice by parents of child victims in Ratchaburi bus shooting
I am writing to you in support of the families of the child victims of the Ratchaburi bus shooting in June 2002, with which you will already be familiar.
I understand that the families of the victims have called on the Criminal Suppression Division to investigate an officer of the Royal Thai Police force stationed in Ratchaburi Province, whom they allege was responsible for organising the attack. Police Colonel Somkuan Puengsup is reported to have promised to look into the matter.
Unfortunately, the Office of the Attorney General is to date proceeding in its appeal against a local Karen villager, Jobi, even though it has been widely acknowledged that the actual perpetrators set him up.
I therefore call upon you to exercise your authority to see to it that
a. The Criminal Suppression Division at once properly and thoroughly investigate the allegations of the victims' families, which they claim are supported by documentary evidence; and,
b. The Office of the Attorney General at once cease its unnecessary appeal against Jobi, and allow him to claim compensation through the Ministry of Justice for his wrongful prosecution and imprisonment.
During this past year the reputation of Thailand as a country where human rights have been relatively well protected has suffered much damage. One reason for this has been the failure of your government to take seriously the claims by victims of serious human rights violations committed by police officers. It is imperative that if the nation's prestige is to be restored, these events must be investigated and the allegations of the victims given due credence. This case would be a good opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in ensuring that the rights of all persons in Thailand are properly protected.
In this regard, I would also like to draw to your attention that Thailand at this time has no independent body for receiving and investigating complaints against police officers; this is despite that fact that many branches of the civil administration now have monitoring and disciplinary agencies. Where no independent body exists to investigate and discipline the police, most victims of crimes committed by police officers are unlikely to ever obtain justice. I therefore urge you to take the preliminary steps necessary to see to it that an independent national police commission is established at the nearest possible date, with the powers and resources necessary to fully investigate complaints against the police and prosecute errant officers.
Yours sincerely
Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra 
Prime Minister 
Government House, 
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District, 
Bangkok 10300 
Fax: +662 282 8631 


1. Police Colonel Winai Thongsuk
Crime Suppression Division (CSD)
Phaholyothin Road
Chomphon, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900
Tel: +662 939 3700-19
Fax: +662 939 2646
2, Mr Pongthep Thepkanjana 
Minister of Justice 
Office of the Ministry of Justice 
Ministry of Justice Building 22nd Floor 
Jangwatana Road, Parkket 
Nonthaburi 11120 
Fax: +662 502 6699 

3. Dr Bhokin Bhalakula
Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road
Bangkok 10200
Fax: +662 226-4371 

4. Professor Saneh Chamarik
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathurn Wan District
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +662 219 2940

5. Ms Asma Jahangir
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917-9006 
Thank you
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-101-2004
Countries : Thailand,