The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information about the releasing of five suspects in the alleged abduction of human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit who has been missing since 12 March 2004. There have been complaints by the senate panel committee led by Senator Sak Kosangruang that the committee does not feel that the police are being cooperative in the efforts aimed at solving the case. Mr. Somchai’s wife, Mrs. Angkhana Wongrachen, says, “I am exasperated. Many police generals and some of Somchai’s friends came to look around my home and keep asking probing questions about my husband. None of them mentioned anything about trying to locate him.” Further she added, “Police general told me that the suspected kidnappers of my husband were good police officers. I strongly doubt whether prosecutors can win a conviction.” (The Nation, 10 June 2004)
One of the five suspects, Deputy Crime Suppression Division Commander Chadchai Liamsanguan, is to date awaiting his bail hearing.
Somchai was the defense lawyer for five men accused of terrorism and five others who accused Chadchai and other senior police officers of extorting confessions from them, after accusing them of involvement in the violent outbreaks in Southern Thailand. When the Criminal Court decided to free the policemen from suspicion, the Law Society of Thailand decided to file a suit on behalf of the men, who allegedly were tortured. In the week before he disappeared, Somchai publicly accused the police of torturing his clients, and described in detail the types of torture they committed, including urinating into the mouth of one suspect.
Investigation police submitted an indictment on 8 June 2004 for the five suspects in the alleged abduction of Mr. Somchai.
On the same day the court rejected a request for bail by the suspects.
On 9 June 2004 the criminal court released the following four suspects: Lt Colonel Sinchai Nimpunyakhamphong, Major Ngern Thongsuk and Corporal Randorn Sithikhet of the Crime Suppression Division and Sergeant Chaiyaweng Phaduang of the Tourist Police Department for a bail of 1.7 million Thai Baht. This was reportedly the fifth attempt to bail out the suspects.
The bail took place despite the 896 page-long indictment that includes the testimony of LtColonel Thinakorn Kesornbua, three VCDs recording the probable route of the kidnapping, the testimony of 100 oral witnesses, and other documentary evidence strengthening the charges against the suspects.
To see our previous appeals on the case please visit FA-06-2004 and UP-14-2004.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)