6 June 2024

Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NRHC) will ask the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and the Committee on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance to investigate the conduct of two police officers in the Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo province, for allegedly torturing a suspect to extract a confession to murder.

The case concerns the death of a woman, only identified as “Buaphan”, who was allegedly beaten to death by five boys, aged 13 to 16. Her body was dumped next to a pond near a school in Aranyaprathet district. The incident took place on January 12th.

Police later arrested a suspect, the victim’s husband “Panya”, who reportedly confessed to killing his wife. He was accompanied by police to conduct a re-enactment of the crime. He was, however, released after police found new CCTV evidence, showing that the victim had been dragged onto one of two motorcycles driven by five boys in the district township. The boys were later arrested.

More evidence emerged on social media, suggesting that Panya might have been forcibly coerced by police into confessing. A video clip shows one of the police officers covering his head with a black plastic bag.

The NHRC accused Aranyaprathet police officers today of violating the suspect’s human rights and the justice process in the handling of the murder case against Panya, who was being made a scapegoat.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt-Gen Somprasong Yentuam, commissioner of the Region 2 Provincial Police Bureau, said today that two district police officers, one of them a deputy superintendent of investigations, have been implicated by a fact-finding committee in malfeasance in office for their handling of the murder case.

He said that further investigations would be conducted to determine whether the two officers had breached the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act.

Regarding the accusation that one of the officers cover Panya’s head with a plastic bag, the police commissioner said the officer in question has denied that he had tortured the suspect.

The five boys and another gang of 12 youths, meanwhile, are being investigated regarding seven more cases, after a number of people filed complaints with the police for alleged sexual assaults, assaults and damage to property, according to Somprasong.