The Pattani court has ruled that a Malay Muslim man was shot dead by security forces during an operation related to the insurgency in the restive southern province of Pattani. The lawyer says, however, he has no hope in pursuing the case against the authorities responsible for the death.
The incident took place in Nam Dam Village, Tung Yang Daeng District, Pattani, on 15 August 2013.
The Pattani Court ruled on Tuesday that Abdul-Azi Saale, a Malay Muslim villager and two allegedly armed men were killed during an operation by the security forces on 15 August 2013.
In the court, the security officers testified that he was killed during the operation, while lawyers and the family found that he was likely to have been killed after the operation ended.
Sakeeman Benjadecha, the lawyer representing the family of Abdul, stated that the ruling from the judge, by stating that the killing took place during operation, implies that the officers might have killed Abdul and two others for self-defence and this may lead to impunity. He also pointed out that the autopsy was performed by non-specialists and without witnesses from the families of the deceased.
According to the testimony of the security forces, there was an armed confrontation between the security forces and two armed men on that day. The authorities later forced the villagers to leave the area and detained Abdul to help conduct a search of four houses, but after the search of the fourth house, Abdul brought a gun from the kitchen and opened fire on the security forces before being shot at by the officers and running into the forest, where he was later shot dead.
Abdul’s family, however, testified that they did not know where Abdul was after the security officers took him. They also did not find him nor his body after the operation ended and the authorities had left. They were later informed that he had passed away in hospital on the evening of 15 August 2013.
After the trial, the judge told Abdul’s family that they can contact the related authorities for further criminal procedures against the authorities responsible for the death of Abdul.
However, Sakeeman pointed out that it is up to the prosecutors whether to pursue the case, and that in most cases the prosecutors rarely file charges against officers in such cases in the Deep South.
Prior to the examination, Abdul’s family went to the Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) for legal assistance. According to the findings of the MAC, the alleged sequence of Abdul’s death and that of the two armed men killed in the confrontation does not add up.
Anukul Aweaputea, a MAC lawyer, told Prachatai, “Abdul was shot an hour after two armed men were shot by the security officers and according to Abdul’s mother, he did not have any weapon.”
Anukul also added that there were hundreds of security personnel at the scene and it was implausible that Abdul would have picked a fight with the armed forces.
The Centre pointed out in its report that Abdul was with his mother after returning from a religious ceremony on that day before being taken by the authorities and found dead in the forest close to the bodies of two killed earlier.