UPDATE (Thailand): Sixth special call for observers to attend court hearings over missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-133-2005
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders, Impunity,

Dear friends,

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 are drawing to a close: the second-last confirmed dates, for the hearing of defence witnesses, will run from tomorrow, November 15, to Friday, November 18.

In the most recent hearings the last prosecution witnesses were heard and defence witnesses began speaking on their own behalf. Among the last prosecution witnesses, two senators who appeared for the joint plaintiff, the wife of the victim, opined that her husband had been abducted because of his work for alleged police torture victims. The AHRC has already issued a brief update on those hearings, in connection with its expressions of concern over the poor quality of the work on the public prosecutor at a critical point in this critical juncture in the trial (UP-130-2005).

After that update and a related statement (AS-111-2005) and press release (AHRC-PL-69-2005) a news reporter who contacted the public prosecutor’s office regarding the case quoted Attapol Yaisawang, director-general of the Special Litigation Department (DSL) as saying that the appearance of changing lawyers in the case was due to “a large number of committees overseeing investigations and prosecution” (“Prosecution of police ‘ineffective“, Ismail Wolff, Thai Day). Irrespective of this explanation, it has been manifest to observers present in the court that the work of the public prosecutor has fallen far short of the requirements of the case, and for this reason close scrutiny of the work of the public prosecution in this and cases of similar concern is required.

Accordingly, the AHRC is again calling for a strong presence of observers in the court during the final days of the main scheduled hearings in the trial. Please refer to our first call (UP-107-2005) for an explanation of the case and reasons that observers are very important in the court.

For a brief overview of the most recent hearings of November 1 to 4, details of the court process and other background please refer to the most recent update (UP-130-2005), the previous call for observers (UP-126-2005) and other links as above. For all other links and information, visit the new Somchai Neelaphaijit webpage established by the AHRC, in Thai and English: www.ahrchk.net/somchai.

For additional information or inquiries regarding the case please contact the Urgent Appeals Desk of the AHRC.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-133-2005
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders, Impunity,