UPDATE (Thailand): Verdict in case of missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit due on January 12 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-004-2006
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances and abductions,

[RE: FA-06-2004: THAILAND: A human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit missing… UP-20-2005: THAILAND: Human rights lawyer still missing after nearly one year; Action needed today to have case transferred; UP-24-2005: THAILAND: Thai minister refuses to act on missing human rights lawyer case; UP-37-2005: Thai PM orders action on missing human rights lawyer, while court hears of torture; UP-45-2005: Wife of missing human rights lawyer intimidated; UP-49-2005: THAILAND: Government commits to giving witness protection to missing lawyer’s family; UP-89-2005: THAILAND: Repeated failed commitment to assign Department of Special Investigation to Somchai case; UP-107-2005: THAILAND: Special call for observers to attend September 7, 8 & 9 court hearings over missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit… UP-130-2005: THAILAND: Constant changes of prosecuting attorneys in Somchai’s case undermine judicial process; UP-133-2005: THAILAND: Sixth special call for observers to attend court hearings over missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit; UP-145-2005: THAILAND: Final special call for observers to attend court hearings over missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit]
UP-004-2006: THAILAND: Verdict in case of missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit due on January 12

THAILAND: Disappearances; Attacks on human rights defenders; Impunity

Dear friends,

The verdict in the hearings in the trial of five police officers in connection with the disappearance of prominent Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit at the Criminal Court in Bangkok will be given by Judge Suwit Pornpanich tomorrow, Thursday, January 12 at 1:30pm at room no. 811 (level 8) of the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road, Ladprao, Bangkok.

Judge Suwit will decide whether or not the five accused–Police Major Ngern Tongsuk; Police Lieutenant Colonel Sinchai Nimbunkampong; Police Lance Corporal Chaiweng Paduang; Police Sergeant Rundorn Sithiket; and, Police Lieutenant Colonel Chadchai Leiamsa-ngoun–committed coercion & gang robbery under sections 309 & 340 of the Penal Code of Thailand. The five accused, whom witnesses for the prosecution have said abducted Somchai on Ramkamhaeng Road in the night of 12 March 2004, have not been charged with abduction or forced disappearance as there are no equivalent provisions under Thai law.

Although the court is yet to decide on the case, one of the accused, Pol. Lt. Col. Chadchai, has since the middle of 2005 resumed his duties as a police officer. In a letter to the Lawyers Council of Thailand of 8 December 2005, the deputy commander of the Crime Suppression Division Pol. Col. Rujiratra Lumbunrueng confirmed that Chadchai was given authorisation to begin work again on 22 June 2005, and was in fact promoted to a higher post than he held previously. The reappointment took effect on June 30. Other defendants have also made it known to the court that they have applied to resume their positions.

The AHRC has joined the wife of the victim and co-plaintiff in the case, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, in calling for much greater action by the Department of Special Investigation to resolve the continued mystery that surrounds Somchai’s abduction and whereabouts (see AS-123-2005). However, to date there is no evidence of further initiatives by the department in either this or other human rights-related cases pending with it, notably the murders of environmentalists Charoen Wat-aksorn and Phra Supoj Suwagano (see UA-112-2005).

In the latter stages of the case, the AHRC also harshly criticised the attorney general for failings in the prosecution conduct of the trial (see AS-111-2005).

For all links and further information on the case of Somchai Neelaphaijit, visit the Somchai Neelaphaijit webpage established by the AHRC: www.ahrchk.net/somchai. Please note that a Thai-language report on the investigation and trial process by the Thai Working Group for Human Rights Defenders has now been placed on the site (Word Document format).

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-004-2006
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,