Judge’s protest by attempted suicide shakes judicial authority — Satang.info

News

Judge’s protest by attempted suicide shakes judicial authority

YALA — Thailand’s courts find themselves under intense scrutiny Friday after a judge shot himself to protest alleged interference in a trial that would have sent five men to death row.

Yala senior judge Khanakorn Pianchana pulled out a handgun and shot himself in the chest inside a courtroom moments after he acquitted five defendants of murder and firearm charges. In a court filing leaked on social media after his suicide attempt, Khanakorn said he was pressured by his supervisor to find the men guilty despite lack of evidence.

Khanakorn’s statements were written inside a full court verdict, which is typically released to the press after a ruling.

The judge said he was threatened by regional justice chief Permsak Saisrithong to deliver a guilty verdict on the five defendants, or Khanakorn himself would be placed under a disciplinary hearing if he disobeys.

Khanakorn said he could not bring himself to condemn the men due to lack of hard evidence. If found guilty, the defendants would have faced death penalty.

“Return justice to the people,” Khanakorn wrote at the end of the 25-page verdict. “My statements might hold weight as light as a feather, but a judge’s heart must be as firm as a mountain.”

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said the matter is under investigation and told reporters that a preliminary inquiry established that Khanakorn attempted suicide due to “personal stress.” However, that didn’t stop a wave of outcry and concerns for fairness in Thailand’s justice system on social media.

“If even a judge has to fight for justice, then what we the people do?” one popular Facebook page wrote.

Suspicions of interference in other cases were also raised because Khanakorn wrote in his statement that his experience was far from unique.

“At this moment, other fellow judges in Courts of First Instance across the country are being treated the same way as I was,” he wrote. “[If] I cannot keep my oath of office, I’d rather die than live without honor.”

Eyewitnesses at the scene told the media Khanakorn rose from his dais, turned to face the king’s portrait hung at the front of the courtroom, then shot himself. He remains in critical condition at the hospital.

Future Forward Party deputy leader Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said he doesn’t believe the official explanation that Khanakorn shot himself out of personal stress.

Writing in a Facebook post, Piyabutr said he has received information from the defendants that appears to confirm Khanakorn’s allegation of interference in the case. Piyabutr, who taught law before entering politics, said he will release the information “soon.”

The trial that led to Khanakorn’s suicide attempt involves murders of five people at a home in Yala province in June 2017. Police later arrested five suspects and accused them of engineering the murders.

But in his verdict, Khanakorn said investigators failed to produce evidence that would have implicated the five men beyond reasonable doubt.

He also filmed himself in a short video, leaked to social media after his suicide attempt, saying that the men weren’t necessarily innocent of the crimes, but there was no enough grounds to condemn them.

“When we punish someone, the punishment wasn’t limited to them alone. Their family is punished, too,” Khanakorn says in the video, which appears to have been filmed on the judge’s dais. “Therefore, if we are not absolutely sure, we shouldn’t punish someone.”

Law, Yala

You may like these posts

Gambling in Thailand — Underground Thai Lottery

Gambling in Thailand is for the most part illegal. Outside of the official Thai lottery, gambling on the outcome of events such as Muay Thai, football and cock-fighting are all il… Read more

Thai elephant deaths: Do elephants risk their lives to save each other?

At first only six elephants were thought to have died  — days later another five were spotted downstream. The initial theory from park rangers in Khao Yai National Park was that… Read more

Traditional Thai Massage

I had heard of a traditional Thai massage a long time before I actually came to live in Thailand. Of course if you mentioned the topic in the UK amongst friends you usually got a … Read more

Weekend train excursions to Pa Sak Jolasid dam from Nov 16

Ekkarat Sri-arayayanpong, head of SRT public relations, said on Thursday the round-trip weekend excursions on the Bangkok-Pa Sak Jolasid route would run on Saturdays and Sundays f… Read more

Bangkok readies for Asean Summit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, are among the leaders who will join the three-day summit starting on… Read more

Tourists warned about thieving monkeys in Khao Yai National Park

Thai Residents reports that with the current cooler weather coinciding with high season in the national park, the increase in visitors also brings more monkeys and they don’t just… Read more

Cock Fighting in Thailand — Thai Fighting Cocks

Cock fighting in Thailand is legal and very popular in many areas, particularly in the rural North/North East. On the other hand gambling is illegal in Thailand, save for the nati… Read more

Why the Thai baht is surging

The currency advanced as much as 0.3% on Friday to 30.187 per dollar, the strongest level since May 2013. That takes its gain to 7.8% this year, more than any of its emerging-mark… Read more

Six wild elephants die trying to save each other in Thai waterfall

Six wild elephants have died while trying to save each other after falling into a waterfall at the Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. Two others were saved during the incident … Read more

Thailand bans street liquor ‘yadong’ after toad venom deaths

After a particularly funky variant made with toad’s venom was blamed for two fatalities in Chonburi , the Excise Department on Friday said all yadong street stalls are illegal and… Read more