11 July 2024

The mother of one of the 2,500 dead victims of the war on drugs, launched 14 years ago by the government of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has lodged a petition with the president of the Supreme Court seeking a probe into the acquittal, by a panel of Supreme Court judges, of six Kalasin police officers charged with killing her son.

The victim, 17-year old Mr. Kittisap Thitboonkrong, a suspect in a theft, was reportedly escorted out of Kalasin provincial police station on July 22nd or 23rd 2004 by the six officers.  He was later found hanged in a farm cottage in Jangharn district of the north-eastern province of Roi-et.

The six police officers were arrested and charged with the murder of Mr. Kittisap and hiding his body to conceal their guilt.  The officers were identified as Pol Col Montri Sriboonlua, then superintendent of Kalasin Muang district police, Pol Lt-Col Sumit Nansathit, then deputy superintendent of Kalasin Muang district police, Pol Lt-Col Sampao Indee, then chief inspector of Kalasin Muang district police, Pol Senior Mst-Sgt Angkarn Kammoon, Sutthinan Nonthing and Pannasin Uppanan.

The Court of First Instance delivered a verdict on July 30th 2012. Angkarn, Sutthinan and Pannasin were sentenced to death, Sumit was sentenced to life, Montri got 7 years and Sampao was acquitted.

The Appeals Court subsequently upheld the death sentence on Angkarn, Sutthinan and Pannasin, but commuted the sentence for Sutthinan to 50 years for his useful testimony.  The court overturned the verdict on Sampao and sentenced him to life and changed the sentences for Sumit and Montri to five years each.

On October 11th 2018, the Supreme Court acquitted all the six police officers on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

In the petition to Mr. Salaikate Wattanaphan, president of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Pikul Promchan, the victim’s mother, questions the acquittal by the Supreme Court, pointing out that there were more than enough witnesses and evidence to prove the guilt of the six police officers.  She noted that the victim died while in police custody.

Mrs. Pikul also said that the Supreme Court cited the doubtful testimony of just one witness but then ruled that all the other evidence was not credible, giving the benefit of doubt to the six officers.

She also states that only two of three Supreme Court judges signed the verdict instead of three and challenged its validity.

The revival of the case has attracted public attention after it was raised at a panel discussion earlier this year in Kalasin province.

About 2,500 people were killed during the brutal anti-drug war. Many of the victims were innocent people or had nothing to do with drugs, but were killed by the police with other motives.