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NACC’s and DSI’s delay, failure and their favor given to officials allegedly involved with torture giving rise to the enforced disappearance of Lawyer Somchai

Seven years past, yet no progress made, public left at their own devices,  culprits are at large

On December 22, 2010, the spokesperson of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) announced the decision to determine the alleged offences against Pol.Gen. Bhanupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya and other 18 officials, regarding the abuse of power and violation of the rights of alleged offenders in the gun robbery taking place at the Fourth Development Military Battalion, the Krom Luang Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Military Camp on January 4, 2004, the incidence of which has led to the onslaught of violence and conflicts in Thailand’s Deep South causing widespread damage and loss of lives among government officials and innocent people. Until now, the death toll has climbed over 4,000.

The 32 alleged offenders in the gun robbery case have all been acquitted by the Court. But prior to his disappearance, Lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit complained that five of his clients had been subject to torture. On March 12, 2004, Lawyer Somchai was last seen on the road opposite to the Hua Mark Police Station in Bangkok. The incidence has led to criminal litigation against some police officials for their deprivation of people’s liberties and robbing against Lawyer Somchai. On January 12, 2006, the Court convicted Pol.Maj. Ngern Thongsuk on depriving the liberties of Lawyer Somchai. The Court of Appeal had earlier scheduled to deliver its verdict on the case on September 24, 2010, but later decided to postpone it claming the mysterious missing of Pol.Maj. Ngern and the legal suit by his relatives to ask for the declaration of his disappearance which is pending in another Court. It gave rise to concern that a legal loophole is being exploited to unnecessarily put off the reading of the verdict and meanwhile some of the alleged offenders in this case who are police officials are allowed to continue their duties as an official.

The complaint lodged with NACC against Pol.Gen. Bhanupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya and other 18 officials for their malfeasance is based on the investigation report by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which had commenced since July 2005. Apart from submitting the investigation report and relevant evidence, DSI has initiated witness protection program for three torture victims. Nevertheless, Mr. Abdullah Abukari, one of the victims, has disappeared since December 2009. The NACC’s dismissal of the complaint against Pol.Gen. Bhanupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya and other 18 officials was simply based on the claim that the physical examination reports include just some photos which fail to establish if the torture really took place while the victims were held in official custody. While DSI had spent more than six years to compile the investigation report and all relevant evidence, NACC took another three more years until they decided to dismiss the complaint. Th ey simply claimed that the complaint has to be dismissed since no solid evidence on the alleged torture could be established. It could be said that the performance of both DSI and NACC has been unnecessarily delayed. In addition, they fail to guarantee justice and refuge to the public, though both had been established as independent regular organizations in order to fill up the gaps of abuse committed by state officials. And in recent time, it is proven that the abuse of power by the police has been left to grow without any check and balance. It certainly makes any person doubt if the two agencies, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) have been carrying their duties in a good faith, with integrity and reliably to public.

It is thus proposed that the Coalition led by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva set up an inquiry committee to find out if the officials and their agencies have been carrying out their duties in a good faith and without being interfered by influential people. And the findings of the NACC have to be made known to relatives of the victims and general public. This should help to shed light on truths among victims of abuse by the police. It should be noted as well that the failure and delay to deliver justice of the independent agencies to investigate any corrupt practice and abuse could stem from their being interfered by high ranking government officials and other influential people. The incidence surely undermines credibility of the coalition to restore fairness in a sharply divided society. Given the utmost importance of the case, the decision to dismiss the complaint against the police officials could simply be taken as yet another failure by this government, but an achi evement.

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