No court fee exemption for parents suing police over son’s death

A criminal court is refusing to accept a lawsuit by the parents of a drug trafficking suspect who died in police custody until court fees are paid.

On 27 February 2017, Southern Bangkok Criminal Court ruled not to accept a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police (RTP) filed by Wasana and Phanom Koedkaeo, parents of Anan Koedkaeo, 34, a drug trafficking suspect who died in suspicious circumstances three days after being interrogated.

Despite acknowledging that the two have low incomes, the court ruled that the lawsuit will not be accepted unless the court fees are paid within 15 days from 27 February 2017.

Wasana and Phanom said that they will submit a request to appeal the court decision.

The pair are suing the police for 9,653,500 baht for allegedly breaching the 1996 Governing Liability for Wrongful Acts of Competent Officers Act over the death of their son.

Their son was arrested by investigators from the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Police on 9 November 2015.

On 11 November, the police told his family that he had been transferred to Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital. He died on 13 November.

During the post-mortem examination, pathologists concluded that there were “physical injuries to the body” and that the suspect’s “brain suffered from severe impact with hard objects.”

In 2015, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), a human rights organisation, issued a statement pointing out that the autopsy results give sufficient reason to suspect that Anan may have died from ill-treatment and torture at the hands of police officers during interrogation.

The Thai authorities must carry out an independent investigation into the suspect’s death, according to the CrCF, who added that an independent and detailed autopsy should be carried out in accordance with Article 150 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

As Thailand is a state party to the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the authorities must ensure that no suspect faces ill-treatment or any form of torture in custody, CrCF concluded.

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