Ruling in compensation case of ethnic activist killed by soldiers postponed

On 26 October, the Ratchadapisek Civil Court postponed its ruling in the compensation case of Chaiyaphum Pasae, a Lahu indigenous activist who was shot to death by soldiers in 2017.

Chaiyaphum Pasae

Ratsada Manuratsada, the plaintiff's attorney, said after hearing the court’s order that the reading had been re-scheduled to 26 January 2022. The reason given was that the Court is not done with the ruling.

The case was originally filed in May 2019 by Napoi Pasae, Chaiyaphum’s mother, who asked to be compensated for damages caused by the army. In October 2020, the Civil Court in Bangkok dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the officers shot Chaiyaphum in self-defence and out of necessity, leaving the army with no liability to pay damages to his family.

Napoi subsequently filed an appeal to the Court.

Chaiyaphum was a Lahu activist who worked to promote indigenous rights in northern Thailand and was involved in numerous campaigns for indigenous peoples to gain citizenship and access to basic welfare. He also spoke out against abuses by state officials against his community during anti-drug operations.

He was a filmmaker and songwriter, and had been awarded a prize at the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival for a short film called ‘Belt and Comb’. Several of his short documentaries were broadcasted on Thai PBS.

Chaiyaphum was shot and killed by military officers at Ban Rin Luang checkpoint in Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai, on 17 March 2017. He was 17 years old.

The officers claimed that they found drugs in Chaiyaphum’s car and had to shoot him because he resisted their search and tried to throw a grenade at them. However, an eyewitness told Thai PBS that Chaiyaphum was dragged out of the car, beaten and shot. Forensic evidence found that Chaiyaphum died of a gunshot wound to the chest from an M16 assault rifle.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled after an inquest in June 2018 that he was killed by an army bullet, but did not rule whether his death was a result of extrajudicial killing or whether the officers’ action was lawful. The court also did not request the CCTV footage of the incident as evidence, despite a request from the family’s lawyer. 

The CCTV footage of the incident was never released in any of the investigation and trial processes and still remains missing.

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