Exclusive: Suspects say they were electrocuted, beaten during Thai military detention

Earlier Prachatai has published exclusive reports of two groups of anti-coup student activists in a Bangkok university and Mahasarakham University in the North East province being ill-treated. They were allegedly blindfolded, threatened with being killed and suffered minor assaults.  
 
In early August, Kritsuda Khunasen, a red-shirt activist claimed that the military subjected her to blindfolding, beatings, sexual harassment, and suffocation. 
 
In mid-September, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights revealed in its report that at least 14 people were allegedly tortured physically and psychologically by the army. All of them are suspects in cases related to political violence and weapons. Most of them are red-shirts. The torture allegations included beatings and electrocution.
 
The military junta and the police have always denied allegations of torture, saying that they treated all detainees well. Despite calls from various local and international human rights organizations, they did not accede to setting up an independent body to investigate the cases. 
 
In this report, Prachatai has interviewed three suspects, two of them accused of committing crimes relating to political violence during the red-shirt demonstrations in 2010 and the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) demonstrations in early 2014. 
 
Prachatai talked to the three suspects, who were arrested after the 22 May coup d’état and were allegedly tortured during detention. Two of them are red-shirt supporters whose charges are related to political violence. The other has been accused of trafficking illicit drugs. 
 
The accounts of alleged torture include electric shocks to the genitals, suffocation, continuous beatings all night, and detention in a hole in the ground, while the hole was being filled. 
 
 
Chatchawan Prabbamrung 
 
Age: 45
Occupation: Refrigeration mechanic 
Arrested: 6 July 2014
Court arrest warrant issued on: 14 July 2014 
Police charge filed on: 15 July 2014
Pre-charge detention period: 9 days 
Accusation: premeditated murder, bombing to cause injury, possession of illegal explosives, carrying explosives in a public place. 
He was accused of shooting M79 grenades at the Big C superstore on Ratchadamri road during the demonstration of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee on 24 February 2014, killing two children.  
 
Account of alleged torture: 
About 50 military officers with weapons captured Chatchawan and his wife at an intersection in northern Chiang Mai Province and took them into two different vans. While traveling in the van, the couple were blindfolded and Chatchawan was threatened to confess, otherwise his wife would “not be safe”.
 
On arrival at an unknown destination, the officers tied his hands behind his back. Two men who wore masks looking like animals beat him for almost four hours. He was later brought into a basement room. In the room, an electric wire wrapped in absorbent cotton was tied to his genitals while another wire was inserted into his anus. The officer splashed water at him and switched on the electricity. When he screamed with pain, the officer covered his head with a plastic bag, suffocating him. An officer once put a pistol into his mouth. This was done to force him to answer where he hid the weapons. 
 
He had been detained for several days before being brought to a press conference and formally charged along with three other suspects. 
 
His wife was detained for several days before being released. Although she was not beaten up, she was subjected to solitary confinement in a room with no windows so that she could not know if it was day or night.  
 
 
Kittisak Soomsri
 
Age: 45
Occupation: Employee of the Vocational Education Commission 
Arrested: the night: 5 September 2014
Police press conference: 11 September 2014
Accusation: possession and use of illegal weapons, carrying weapons in a public place. The suspect was brought to a press conference along with five other suspects. News media reported that they were the “men in black” who were responsible for the death of Col Romklao Thuwatham, killed by explosives during clashes at the red-shirt demonstration on Rajdamnoen Avenue on 10 April 2010. The police later made it clear that they were not involved in the death of Romklao and that their alleged operation was at a different intersection on the same road. 
 
Account of alleged torture: 
Three men captured him at his office without court arrest warrant. They also threatened his wife not to file a police complaint, otherwise the entire family would “not be safe”. He was then detained at an unknown place. 
 
The interrogation started on the first night. A bag was used to cover his head so that he could not see the face of the interrogator. During the interrogation, he was hit on the head and mouth several times. Two men sat on his stomach and legs. At bedtime, the blindfold was taken off. He was handcuffed all the time, whenever he ate, slept or went to the bathroom.
 
These torture methods were intended to have him confess to committing the crime on 10 April 2010 and implicating others.
 
He confessed the morning after because he did not want to be tortured any more. 
 
 
Bancha Kodphuthorn
 
Age : 28
Occupation: Construction worker
Arrested: 22 July 2014
Formally charged: 23 July 2014
Pre-charge detention: 1 night
Accusation: robbery 
 
Account of allged torture: 
During the night of 22 July, several military and police officers raided his friend’s house where he was visiting. Bancha and the house owner were detained in a car and blindfolded so they did not know where they were taken. At the unknown destination, still blindfolded, he was kicked and slapped several times. When he answered that he did not know, they beat him again. After an hour of beating, he was pushed into a hole in the ground. The officers filled the hole with soil until the level reached his neck. Then he was hit with a gun. After half an hour in the hole, he was put onto the ground and beaten overnight until the morning of the next day. 
 
The torture was intended to force him to name members of a drug trafficking gang.
 
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