Court dismisses charge against 2010 ‘Man in Black’ suspect

The Appeal Court has dismissed one charge against one of the ‘men in black’ suspects accused of taking part in the deadly political violence on 10 April 2010.

On 6 September 2017, the Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the Court of First Instance to dismiss one of the charges against Kittisak Soomsri, 47, one of the five ‘men in black’ suspects.

The court dismissed the accusation that he illegally carried explosive devices in a car due to weak evidence, but other charges against him still stand.

On 11 April 2017, the Criminal Court sentenced Kittisak and Preecha Yooyen, 26, to 10 years’ imprisonment 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 court, however, released on bail three of the five suspects 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.

Winyat said the dismissal ruling is important for Kittisak’s appeal as it was the stepping stone which led to other charges.

During a press conference in September 2014, a few days after their arrest, 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 in 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)

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