Southern land rights activist shot

An unidentified gunman has shot an activist who is a key witness to the murder of a land rights activist in southern Thailand.

Supot Kansong, 42, a villager of Khlong Sai Pattana Community in Chai Buri District of Surat Thani, was ambushed by an unidentified gunman at around 3 pm on Friday, 8 April 2016.

Supot was injured in the right thigh, hip and leg, but survived. He is currently being treated at Chai Buri Hospital.

He was shot as he was driving back to the village after the tires of his car burst because nails had been spread on the road leading to the village.

His family has filed a complaint about the attack to Chai Buri Police Station.   

Supot is a key witness to the assassination of Chai Bunthonglek, a 61-year-old member of the Southern Peasant’s Federation of Thailand (SPFT) from Khlong Sai Pattana Community.

He is the son-in-law of Chai, who was shot dead at his house with a .357 gun by two gunmen on 11 February 2015.

On 15 March 2016, the Provincial Court in Wiang Sa District of Surat Thani Province dismissed charges against Santi Wanthong, a suspect in the assassination of Chai.

Santi was accused of being an accomplice in the assassination, allegedly acting as a driver for the gunman. He was indicted for murder, violation of the Gun Control Act, and carrying weapons in public.  

There are two other suspects in the case, one of whom is accused of being the gunman. However, the prosecutor has not yet indicted the two as their identities are still unclear because one of them reportedly covered his head with a black hood when staging the crime.  

According to Kritsada Khunnarong, attorney for the plaintiff, the judge said that the assassination of Chai happened at night. Therefore, the description of the suspects’ identities given by two witnesses who were at the crime scene was not reliable.  

The judge added that the witnesses only saw the suspects briefly from a distance of about 10 metres.

In addition, the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to indict an individual believed to be the person who ordered the assassination because phone records only show that Santi contacted the individual one month before the assassination.