The murder case of a 17 year old, ethnic teen activist is set to be heard by Thailand’s Supreme Court. Family members of Chaiyaphum Pasae filed the suit which was accepted for consideration by the Supreme Court.
Chaiyaphum was an ethnic, Lahu activist who worked to promote indigenous rights in northern Thailand. He was allegedly shot and killed by military personnel at a checkpoint in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao District on March 17, 2017.
Since his death, the Cross Cultural Foundation assisted his relatives and says that the Supreme Court found “important problems to examine” after the Appeal Court dismissed the case last year. The CrCF director, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, commented on the case to Prachatai English.
“Although the Army will insist that the bullet that was shot by a soldier under its command was fired in self-defence, the relatives and society still have doubts about the facts that occurred.
“So, a ruling of the Supreme Court would help in resolving the facts, which is important for compensation to the deceased’s relatives and society.”
Before the military allegedly shot Chiayaphum, they say they found 2,800 drug pills in his car. They went on to say that they had to shoot him because he resisted being searched and tried to throw a grenade at the officers. But, an eyewitness told Thai PBS that the teenager was actually dragged out of the car, beaten and killed.
The Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled that he was killed by a bullet from the army, but did not rule whether the killing was extrajudicial or lawful. The court also did not request the CCTV footage of the incident for evidence, despite a request from the family’s lawyer. That CCTV footage went missing and was never released.
The footage going missing prompted public criticism over the killing and the subsequent military’s claim that the teen resisted being searched. Then, the public became outraged when the commander of the army in the region, Wichak Siribansop, said that he saw the CCTV footage and that it showed the soldiers were trying to protect themselves from harm.
“It was a normal decision of the soldier. If it were me there, I might shoot in automatic mode.”
Originally, the lawsuit was filed back in May 2019 by Chaiyaphum’s mother. She asked to be compensated for damages caused by the army. But, the Civil Court dismissed the case, prompting her to file an appeal.
The Appeal Court then dismissed the case on January 26, 2022, on the grounds that the military shot her son in self-defence, and was not liable for damages.
His mother then filed the case with the Supreme Court which accepted the consideration of the case on January 16, 2023.
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