Karen mother sues Thai army over son's death

A mother is suing the Thai Ministry of Defence and the Royal Thai Army over the death of her son, who was allegedly tortured by army officers shortly before his death.    

According the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCf), a CSO promoting human rights and cultural diversity, on Wednesday morning, 26 August 2015, the Civil Court of Bangkok, Ratchadaphisek Road, heard testimony from plaintiff witnesses in the case of the alleged torture of Somchai Si-ueangdoi.

The plaintiff in the case is Saisuda Si-ueangdoi, the mother. She has filed a civil case against the Defence Ministry, the Royal Thai Army and the Prime Minister's Office over the death of her son, alleging that he suffered severe physical torture at the hands of other soldiers contributing to his death.

The mother is demanding compensation from the state agencies for the death of her son.

In court, Saisuda had to speak through a translator because she is a member of the Pakayaw ethnic group, a Karen minority.

Two other witnesses in the case testified on Wednesday: Chamaiporn Sriaungdoi, the late man’s sister, and Nittaya Wangpaiboon, the plaintiff’s lawyer.

CrCf reported that between 21 and 23 January 2014, Pte Somchai, who was then serving at Kawila Military Camp in the northern province of Chiang Mai, was tortured by three military officers at the base.

The three officers allegedly covered his head with a metal can and repeatedly hit his head and body about 20 times after which Somchai told his mother about the alleged torture.

Later on 28 January 2014, Somchai was sent to a health facility in the military base because of a rising temperature and physical fatigue. He was later transferred to Theppanya Hospital in Chiang Mai due to the severity of his symptoms and died the next day on 29 January 2014.

In the forensic report, pathologists at Maharaj Hospital in Chiang Mai said that Somchai died from bird flu because of his weak physical condition prior to the infection.

The next hearings on the case will be held at Chiang Mai Provincial Court on 8, 9 and 11 December 2015.