On 30 September, the 46th Military Circle Court accepted a case of misconduct and unintentional killing against 9 soldiers who beat to death Wichian Puaksom, a newly enlisted private, in Narathiwat province, according to the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF).
Private Wichian in a monkhood. (File photo)
Lt Phuri Perksophon and 8 others were charged in a criminal lawsuit by Naritsarawan Keawnopparat, Wichian’s niece. The Court scheduled the defendants’ submission of testimony by 25 November 2021.
In 2011, Wichian Puaksom volunteered for the army and was assigned to Narathiwat province, in the restive Deep South of Thailand. Only a month after he became a soldier, he died from brutal torture committed at the hands of some 10 soldiers.
An investigation by the 4th Army Region found that Wichian was severely tortured by his superiors and other soldiers after he was accused of running away from military training. When the family tried to pursue justice, they received a series of threats as the military wanted them to accept monetary compensation and remain silent.
CrCF, a human rights NGO that addresses the human rights issues especially in the Deep South, stated that as Thailand has not enacted a law preventing torture and enforced disappearance, Wichian’s case is still under the jurisdiction of the military court where a final ruling may take a long time.
CrCF also stated in its Facebook post that in some cases, those involved in torture received only disciplinary punishments and later resumed their posts. Some guilty officers were even promoted despite the court’s rulings. If there is no prompt and proportionate criminal punishment, impunity will continue and offences will be repeated.