Court dismisses torture case against Defence Ministry, Thai army

The Civil Court has dismissed a case filed against the Defence Ministry, the Royal Thai Army and the Prime Minister's Office over the death of a Karen private who was allegedly tortured in a military base shortly before his death.

The Civil Court on Ratchadapisek Rd., Bangkok, on Tuesday, 31 May 2016, dismissed a case filed by Saisuda Si-ueangdoi, a member of the Pakayaw Karen minority, against the Royal Thai Army, the Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, after her son, Somchai Si-ueangdoi, a military private, was allegedly tortured by other soldiers shortly before his death, BBC Thai reported.

The Karen mother sued the three public agencies in May 2015 over the death of Somchai, demanding that the authorities pay her 12.6 million baht in compensation for the loss her son. She believed that her son suffered severe physical torture at the hands of other soldiers contributing to his death.

The court, however, dismissed the case, concluding that according to the autopsy report from the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital, the late private died from flu and a lung infection as there was no severe physical injury on his body.   

According to the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCf), a CSO promoting human rights and cultural diversity, Somchai died at Theppanya Hospital in the northern province of Chiang Mai on 29 January 2014.

Between 21 and 23 January 2014, Pte Somchai, who was then serving at Kawila Military Camp in Chiang Mai, was tortured by three soldiers at the base, who 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, the CrCF reported.

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.

According to Theppanya Hospital’s medical report, there were 20 patients who were suffering from flu at that time and Somchai was the only patient who died.

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