Policeman acquitted of charges of violating Emergency Decree last year

On 18 Oct, Bangkok North Municipal Court acquitted Pol Sr Sgt Maj Santivej Phutree, who was arrested and charged under the Emergency Decree during the political unrest last year when he was trying to look for his daughter.

The court acquitted Santivej, 59, on grounds that the prosecutor had showed only a photograph of him at the demonstration site with no further evidence.  The reading of the verdict took only about 10 minutes.

Pol Sr Sgt Maj Santivej told Prachatai that he had had to travel from the northeastern province of Nong Khai where he lived to Bangkok more than 7 times since the arrest to fight the case, and each time had to spend at least 5,000 baht.

In May last year, the policeman, attached to the Tha Bo Police Station in Nong Khai province, came to Bangkok to look for his daughter who had come to seek a job and had joined the protests of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. 

Unaware that his daughter had already left for her hometown in Kalasin in the northeast, on 19 May 2010 he went to a place near Lad Prao Soi 71 where about 40 red shirts had gathered due to the fact that the routes to the Ratchaprasong rally site had been blocked by the military.

Police from Wang Thonglang Police Station took his photograph and issued an arrest warrant.  He subsequently turned himself in to the police and was detained at the headquarters of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 for 7 days before being released.

When asked whether he would file any lawsuit against the government or government officials, his lawyer Thitipong Srisan said that it was not likely that his client would do so, because in the Thai justice system those who made orders could not be held liable and only the officials who followed their orders would get into trouble.

The lawyer said that in this case the defendant did not suffer much as he had been granted bail and could fight the case, but he believed that there were many other cases which were summarily prosecuted and involved physical abuse to force confessions during the government crackdown in May last year.  All relevant agencies should consider the cases and offer justice and proper redress to the victims, he said.



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