3 of 5 ‘2010 Men in Black’ released on bail

The Criminal Court has freed three of the five ‘men in black’ suspects accused of taking part in the deadly political violence on 10 April 2010 after charges against them were dismissed.

On 11 April 2017, the Criminal Court released on bail three of the five suspects indicted for possession of unauthorized and illegal weapons of war, such as M79 grenade launchers, M16 rifles, HK33 rifles and explosive devices during the violent military crackdown against red-shirt protesters on 10 April 2010.

The three were granted bail after Winyat Chatmontree, their defence lawyer from Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), submitted bail requests with 200,000 baht surety for each of them.

The three are Ronnarit Suricha, 35, Chamnan Pakeechai, 47, and Punika Chusri, 41.

The court dismissed charges against the three earlier on 31 January, citing weak evidence.The court, however, did not release the three, but permitted the authorities to keep them in detention while the prosecution appeals.  

On the contrary, the other two, Kittisak Soomsri, 47, and Preecha Yooyen, 26, were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Winyat said he will submit an appeal for the Kittisak and Preecha together with bail requests for the two.  

During a press conference in September 2014, a few days after their arrests, the five confessed that they were the ‘men in black’. However, roughly a month later, they recanted their confessions and alleged that they were tortured to confess while under military detention.

Winyat told Prachatai that Kittisak faced the most severe treatment. He was allegedly beaten, suffocated and threatened. The other three men, Preecha, Ronnarit, and Chamnan, were allegedly suffocated with plastic bags and threatened. The only female suspect, Punika, faced no ill-treatment.

The four male 'Men in Black' suspects with other detainees in Bangkok Remand Prison (file photo)