‘Men in Black’ suspect receives another charge

Prosecutors pressed another charge against one of the suspects of ‘Men in Black’, who were allegedly involved in violence during the military crackdown on red shirts on 10 April 2010.

On Monday, 24 August 2015, the prosecutors at Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Ratchada Road indicted the Kittisak Soomsri, 46, one of the five Men in Black suspects of another offense for allegedly possessing and carrying in public 51 self-made improvised bombs in M150 bottles, energy drink bottles, and other substances for producing bombs, including, substances for AK assault-rifle ammunitions.

The prosecutors said that the suspect was possessing and carrying the weapons of war in early April around the time of the violent military crackdown on red shirt protesters during the April-May 2010 political violence. The suspect, however, denied all charges.

According Winyat Chatmontri, the suspect defense lawyer from Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), the court has scheduled the preliminary hearing on the case on 14 September 2015.  

In 2010, Seksan Worapiticharoenkun, the suspect’s former colleague was also charged on the same case. The authorities alleged him for involvement in the case because he was believed to be the owner of the van which the weapons were found. However, the court later dismissed charges against Seksan.

The deposition hearing on the men in black case has been postponed for at least four times and has not been held yet up to now due to a disagreement between the public prosecutor and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), who is overseeing investigation of the case.

The prosecutors found that the evidence to file terrorism charges against the five is insufficient, but the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) decided to press these charges against the five suspects.

The five suspects are:  

- Kittisak Soomsri, 45, a Bangkok native

- Preecha Yooyen, 24, from northern Chiang Mai Province

- Ronnarit Suricha, 33, from northeastern Ubon Ratchathani Province

- Chamnan Pakeechai, 45, from Bangkok

- Punika Chusri, 39, from Bangkok

The five have remained in custody since September last year. The court repeatedly denied the suspects’ bail requests, citing the severity of the crime and flight risk.

At an earlier press conference on 11 September 2014, a few days after their arrests, the five confessed that they were the men in black. However, roughly a month later, they recanted their confessions and alleged that they were tortured to confess while under detention by the military.

On 14 October 2014, Winyat, their lawyer, told Prachatai that Kittisak faced the most severe treatment. He was allegedly beaten, suffocated and threatened. The other three men, Preecha, Ronnarit, and Chamnan, were allegedly suffocated with plastic bags and threatened. The only female suspect, Punika, faced no ill-treatment.