Judge to be prosecuted for shooting himself

Khanakorn Pianchana, the judge who shot himself in protest against meddling in judges' decisions, will be charged by police for violating the gun law.

Sarawut Benjakul, Secretary-General of the Office of the Judiciary, said the Yala police have asked for permission from the President of the Supreme Court to prosecute Khanakorn as it is time for prosecutors to file criminal charges.

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The case will be based on the law which prohibits carrying a gun in a public place or owning a gun without a license. The penalty is 1-10 years in jail and a 2,000-20,000 baht fine. So far, Khanakorn has not been detained.

In November last year, Khanakorn attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest in his courtroom in Yala Provincial Court after reading his verdict as a judge of the court of first instance. Criticizing how the judicial system operates, his statement described how the judicial establishment interfered with his work to favour military officers in the Deep South.

Proposing systemic reform, the last sentence of the statement read "return verdicts to judges, return justice to the people." After public outcry over the incident, an investigation committee was established by order of the President of the Supreme Court to look into what happened. It remains to be seen if its work will lead to judicial reform.

While investigations are going on, Khanakorn has been transferred to work as an assistant Appeal Court judge in Chiang Mai, where his family lives, but 1,700 kilometres from his former office in the insurgency-prone southern part of Thailand.