Police threatened to kill me and dump my body: theft suspect

A wrongly identified theft suspect says that police officers threatened to kill him and dump his body on a mountain.  

The Cross Cultural  Foundation (CrCF), a human rights advocacy group, reported that on Monday, 8 February 2016, the Provincial Court of Prachinburi in the east of Thailand held a second witness examination hearing in a case filed by Rittirong Chuenjit, 25, against seven police officers.

In January 2009, Ritttirong, then an 18-year-old student, was arrested by police officers who alleged that he was a thief. After his arrest, the police officers allegedly tortured him to obtain a confession. He was later released after the police found that they had arrested the wrong suspect.

For several years, Rittirong’s family failed in their attempts to press charges against the police officers. The family later contacted CrCF for legal assistance and successfully filed charges against seven police offices at the Provincial Court on 10 June 2015.

Rittirong accused seven police officers of Mueang Prachinburi Police Station of offences under Articles 83, 91, 157, 200, 295, 309, 310 and 391 of the Criminal Code for unlawfully detaining him and torturing him psychologically and physically.

If found guilty, the officers could face life imprisonment.

At the court on Monday, Rittirong testified that after he was tortured by the officers to make him confess, they threatened that if he exposed the torture they would kill him and dump his body on a mountain in the province.

Rittirong added that he was terrified after the torture and did not want to tell anyone about it until his parents asked him about the bruises and other physical injuries apparent on his body.

The family later convinced Rittirong to undergo a medical examination. Rittirong also dropped out of school because he was extremely traumatised by the torture and later had to receive psychiatric treatment.

During the first hearing in the case in August 2015, Rittirong testified that the police officers hooded his head with a black plastic bag and suffocated him three times.

The plaintiff also said that he had filed the case with the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, but the Office concluded that there was no concrete evidence in the case despite the fact that a subcommittee of the Office had earlier investigated the case and said that the case could proceed.

Rittirong said that he will fight for justice until the end.

Allegations of torture and ill-treatment at the hands of authorities are common in Thailand especially in the restive Deep South where the authorities can detain citizens without charge for up to 37 days under the Emergency Decree and Internal Security Act. Special security laws have been in force in the region for more than a decade.

According to a shadow report submitted to the UN in 2014 on Thailand’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture, 393 out of 3,456 allegations of rights violations in the Deep South are related to ill-treatment and torture by state officials.

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