The ICJ today expressed regret at the death of Judge Khanakorn Pianchana, who committed suicide on 7 March 2020. Judge Khanakorn was widely known after an attempted suicide in October 2019 following the delivery of a verdict which he claimed was interfered by a senior judge.
Khanakorn's picture at his funeral
Judge Khanakorn previously served as Vice Presiding Judge of the Yala Provincial Court in Thailand’s restive southern region. He passed away on 7 March 2020 at his home in Chiang Mai province.
Before the suicide, Judge Khanakorn posted a two-page letter on his Facebook page, in which he claimed that he had been subject to disciplinary proceeding and had criminal charge brought against him after he had publicized his concerns about interference by a superior judge into certain rulings. These involved five individuals detained and interrogated under special security laws in southern Thailand.
In October 2019, Judge Khanakorn claimed in a public letter that he had been ordered by a senior judge to rewrite a ruling in which he exonerated the five individuals charged with murder, for lack of evidence. Following his delivery of the verdict, he shot himself in the chest in a courtroom at Yala Provincial Court.
After his first suicide attempt, according to the Office of the Judiciary’s Press Release dated 18 November 2019, the Judicial Commission initiated an investigation against him for violations of provisions on discipline of judicial officials. He was subsequently transferred to the Court of Appeal Region 5 in Chiang Mai, at which time he was further investigated for committing criminal offences under the Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation Firearms Act.
On 7 March 2020, according to the interview gave by Secretary-General of Office of the Judiciary, an initial investigation of the Judicial Commission found that there had been no improper interference, and the disciplinary actions and the criminal charges that are brought against Judge Khanakorn were based on his actions for carrying a gun into court and using the gun to attempt suicide.