UPDATE (Thailand): Special call for observers to attend trial of persons accused of murdering environmentalist Charoen Wat-aksorn 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-134-2006
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings,

[RE: UA-76-2004: THAILAND: A prominent environmentalist Charoen Wat-aksorn murdered and an independent investigation required; UP-40-2004: THAILAND: Arrest warrant issued against a local politician for the murder of Charoen Wat-aksorn; UP-77-2005: THAILAND: Department of Special Investigation fails to bring justice to Charoen Wat-aksorn case; UP-124-2006: THAILAND: Important programme to commemorate human rights defenders and discuss failed investigations; UP-128-2006: THAILAND: Please sign petition to remove head of special investigation from post
UP-134-2006: THAILAND: Special call for observers to attend trial of persons accused of murdering environmentalist Charoen Wat-aksorn

THAILAND: Attacks on human rights defenders & environmentalists; impunity; unaccountability

Dear friends,

The main hearings following the murder of Thai environmentalist Charoen Wat-aksorn are starting in court in Bangkok tomorrow, June 29, and the following day, June 30. The case is very important to human rights in Thailand as it is among a number of failed cases of murdered environmentalists and human rights defenders in the hands of the Department of Special Investigation. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges all concerned persons to attend the court as observers, and calls on other interested persons to follow the case closely.

As the AHRC reported in its original appeal (UA-076-2004), Charoen Wat-aksorn was shot dead on 21 June 2004. Shortly after, two gunmen were arrested and admitted to the killing but said it was due to a personal dispute and that they were drunk. However, local people and members of Charoen’s environmental group, Rak Thongthin Bo-nok recognised that the pattern and nature of the murder was typical of a hired kill, and felt that Charoen was murdered on the orders of local influential businesspersons and politicians. Under pressure, the police arrested two brothers who are alleged to have been behind the killing, both active in politics and local business.

After much more pressure on the authorities, the case was transferred to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under the Ministry of Justice on 30 July 2004. The DSI began its investigation on 4 August 2004. It arrested the father of the two brothers as a co-conspirator. Since that time it has made no further progress. It has been strongly criticised by many concerned persons and groups for its failed investigation, and in recent times calls have grown for its director to be replaced because of this and other cases: http://thailand.ahrchk.net/dsi_petition/

The two gunmen were kept in jail awaiting trial while the three other accused were released on bail. One of the two imprisoned men died from illness while in custody, and therefore the case is proceeding against the remaining four defendants.

Further details on the trial process follow. Tomorrow Korn-uma Pongnoi, the wife of Charoen, is scheduled to testify. We request the attendance of human rights defenders, members of the media, embassies, lawyers and other concerned persons at the court for these important hearings.

LOCATION: Criminal Court, Ratchadapisek Road, Ladprao, Bangkok

TRIAL NO.: Black No. 2945/2547

1. Saneh Lekluan (gunman; pleaded guilty)
2. Prachub Hinkaew (gunman; pleaded guilty; deceased)
3. Tanu Hinkaew (alleged conspirator; pleaded not guilty; brother of 4th accused; lawyer & former MP candidate)
4. Manoh Hinkaew (alleged conspirator; pleaded not guilty; brother of 3rd accused; provincial council member)
5. Jua Hinkaew (alleged conspirator; pleaded not guilty; father of 3rd & 4th accused)

Thai Working Group on Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights First (US)
Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong)

11 October 2004: 1st & 2nd accused pleaded guilty; 3rd, 4th & 5th accused pleaded innocent
1-2 December 2004; 28 January 2006: Opening hearings at Criminal Court in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provincial Court

Prosecution witnesses:
29, 30 June; 7, 28 July; 4, 31 August; 7, 8, 14, 15, 19 December 2006
23, 24, 25, 26, 30 January; 8, 9, 13, 14 February 2007
Defence witnesses: 6, 7, 8, 22, 23 March 2007

TIME: Morning hearings start at 9am; afternoon hearings start at 1:30pm


The killing of Charoen Wat-aksorn is typical of the work of “influential persons” in eliminating opponents in Thailand, including human rights defenders, environmentalists and other persons working for social change. For a relevant discussion, “Collusion and influence behind the assassinations of human rights defenders in Thailand” by Tyrell Haberkorn (article 2, vol. 4, no. 2, April 2005). 

The trial process is also of concern as the office of the public prosecutor has been criticised of doing a poor job in human rights cases, such as the prosecution of five police accused in connection with the disappearance of lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit (see for instance UP-130-2005) and the fiasco involving 58 persons accused with being responsible for the 25 October 2004 protest outside the Tak Bai police station that ended with mass deaths (UP-126-2006).

Thank you for your attention to this case.

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

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-134-2006
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Extrajudicial killings,