UPDATE (Thailand): Arrest warrant issued against a local politician for the murder of Charoen Wat-aksorn 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-40-2004
ISSUES: Human rights defenders,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that The Prachuap Khiri Khan criminal court on 20 July 2004 approved a warrant for the arrest of Provincial Administrative Organisation member Manot Hinkaew on charges of involvement in the murder of environmental activist Charoen Wat-aksorn. Pol Maj-Gen Yutthana Thaipakdee, deputy chief of Police Region 7 and in charge of leading the investigation, said the warrant has been issued for the arrest of the politician after evidence showed he was linked to the murder, after the Special Investigation Department (SID) has established links between the murder and the campaign he led against alleged encroachment on public land. The police has however not yet been able to arrest the suspect as he had left his house, and his whereabouts remain unknown. Charoen led protests against two power plant projects and the day he was killed, on 21 June 2004, he had just returned from giving testimoney before a senate panel in Bangkok about an alleged land scam in Tambon Bo Nok.

Earlier this month, Manot’s brother Thanu Hinkaew was charged for conspiracy for the alleged the murder, but was released on a 5-million Bhat bail. Police have however arrested two suspected gunmen aides to Mr Thanu Hinkaew, namely Saneh Lekluan and Prachuap Hinkaew, who allegedly have confessed that they had shot the activist.

Charoen’s family continues to request the Justice Ministry’s Special Investigation Department (SID) to take over the investigation from the local police to ensure an independent investigation. On 19 July 2004 Charoen’s wife Korn-uma Pongnoi joined some 300 other Bo Nok villagers from Prachuap Khiri Khan gathering at the Criminal Court to call for the SID to take over the case.

AHRC calls for your immediate action on this very serious matter. Please send a letter to the Thai government and demand that the SID takes over the case from the local police to ensure that an independent investigation is launched without further delay. Please also call on the authorities to swiftly allocate Manot Hinkaew and bring him to justice. Thirdly, the two gunmen that were arrested by the police need to be properly investigated and prosecuted.

You can see the sample letter and contact information of local authorities in UA-76-2004


Prominent environmentalist Charoen Wat-aksorn was shot dead by two gunmen on the night of 21 June 2004. The gunmen remain at large. The autopsy found that seven bullets, three of which had penetrated his head and face, had been fired at him.

Charoen had for a decade led a high-profile protest against the Bo Nok coal-fired power plant project in Prachuap Khiri Khan. When he was killed, he had just returned from Bangkok where he had asked the House Committee on Corruption Investigation to investigate into allegations that local officials illegally issued land title deeds on public land plot in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Charoen’s wife and human rights groups continue to demand that Charoen’s case is handled by the Justice Ministry’s Special Investigation Department (SID) for an independent investigation and not by local police.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra however refused this request and instead he merely instructed the Bangkok police to assist the local police in the investigation and added that he would personally monitor police probes into the killing.

During the last three years in Thailand under the current administration, have 16 human-rights defenders and environmentalists been killed or gone missing. In addition, 3,000 people have been killed in the Thai government’s war on drugs in 2003, and in the deep South about 200 people were killed earlier this year.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-40-2004
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Human rights defenders,