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Yala judge’s suicide letter forces spotlight on independence of the Thai judiciary

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The suicide letter from a former Yala judge, who took his own life on Saturday, continued to raise many suspicions about the independence of the Thai judicial system.

Khanakorn Pianchana, previously the head of the trial court at Yala Provincial Court in southern Thailand, took his own life on Saturday in his Chiang Mai residence. He posted a 2 page letter dated March 6 titled “Khanakorn October” (translated) which he posted on his Facebook page.

The letter mentioned the incident last October when he shot himself in the Yala courtroom after begrudgingly reading a ruling. Before that incident he had already posted a 25 page statement claiming that a superior judge had been trying to influence his judgement in a criminal case.

Read more about the October 4 incident when the judge shot himself in a Yala Court HERE and HERE.

Khanakorn mentioned in his weekend suicide note that following the first suicide attempt he was “sure he would be dismissed as a judge”. Instead he was investigated by the Thai Court of Justice and was charged as a suspect in a criminal case. He insisted that he had acted in the Yala courtroom out of sincerity “to return justice to the people”.

“Being deprived of a job I love means a loss of one’s true self. My body and mind cannot bear the consequences of my action and my life is now filled with misery.” (as translated in The Nation)

“I do not regret it and I’m proud of being part of administering justice for the Thai people.”

“In the past, we had the 1997 Constitution written by the Constitution Drafting Council. People and academics admit it was the most democratic charter the country had ever had.  You may wonder why when the charter was in effect, reviewing a ruling at the first-court level is not allowed. Could it be that the drafters knew such a review could pave the way for interfering of a ruling by regional court presidents?”

“I want to ask friends, you fellow-Thais: Do you find an evil intention in what I had done, which led to disciplinary and criminal action against me? A reply in your heart is enough. As for me, I knew from the start. It’s a pity you are not my judge.“

I thought I would surely die on October 4 of 2019, but heaven decided to spare me and let me have extra time with my family. I have used it to fix and renovate my house, making sure that my wife and son can live here safely and comfortably.”

“I have taught my son to be strong and be good. A good person is one who does good things for himself, others, and the general public under the framework of morality.“

“March 6-7 is a suitable date for me to leave this world, since my son’s summer vacation has already started. Before that I tried to meditate to calm my mind but it didn’t work out so well, so I decided to calm it with force.”

“Life is just a journey. This body is not our own. In the end everything will turn to dust and we inevitably have to leave our duties and loved ones. The only thing that remains is our good deeds in the memory of others. I wish you all good luck and happiness. Farewell.”

Khanakorn also added a postscript that a donation for his son’s scholarship is welcome by money transfer to his Siam Commercial Bank savings account Khanakorn Pianchana at account Number 714-236-9930.

The dead judge’s letter has stirred up Thai netizens and attracted broad criticism of the judicial system, again. Pro-democracy netizens are also expressing their deep sorrow and sympathy with him and his family while some government supporters have added their lukewarm condolences.

Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, from the governing Prachachart Party called for an investigation into his death yesterday maintaining that the case be handled “immediately and with transparency”.

“The government should also consider providing his family with financial aid as well as a pension package that is suitable for a judge who gave his life for the integrity of his career,”

Some responses uncluded the phrases… “return justice to the judge” and “return justice to the people”.

After Khanakorn’s first suicide attempt last year, Yala’s senior judge identified by Khanakorn denied interfering with the judge’s verdict. At the time the case related to national security matter involving a law enforcement agency fighting insurgency in the deep South.

Khanakorn’s verdict acquitted those who were charged by the authorities.  The case sparked an intense  political debate with some blaming Khanakorn for making political points while pro-democracy activists demanded reform of the judicial system.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the former secretary-general of the Future Forward Party, posted his response on Saturday…

“Khanakorn is not a criminal, he is a judge who tried to uphold justice. I would like to express my condolences to his family and his loved ones, hoping they will have the strength to bear this time of sadness and this unbearable incident.“

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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