BANGKOK — Whenever high-profile crime and calamity strikes, public attention is captivated for a while, criminal investigations are launched, and then the whole thing fades away. Sometimes the public does not find out how the cases ended.
The following are details of court proceedings in 2017 for cases that you may have heard or read about. If interested, members of the public can even attend these hearings and see how they unfold – provided you can understand Thai, of course.
Murder of disabled bakery vendor
On May 1, six men allegedly murdered a disabled bakery worker in broad daylight. According to a police report of the incident, some of the killers kept slashing the victim, Somkiat Srichan, even after officers arrived at the scene.
The killing soon became national news, not only for its brutality, but also because four of the suspects were sons of police officers. All of the suspects are currently awaiting trial in prison.
Ananchai Chaiyadech, a witness in the case, said the next phase is examination of witnesses from March 18 to March 28. A verdict is expected in September or October, he said.
Erawan Shrine Bombing
After a series of delays and disputes over interpreters, the trial of two Uighur men accused of staging the deadly bombing of Erawan Shrine finally kicked off in November.
Lawyer Schoochart Kanpai said the trial will resume after a long break with witness examination March 6 and March 7 at Bangkok’s military court. Lt. Col. Somkiat Ploytubtim, the same witness who opened the trial in November, will take the stand on those two days.
The businessman who slammed his Mercedes-Benz into the back of another car, killing the two graduate students inside, will take the stand in the Ayutthaya Provincial Court a year after the fatal accident.
Jenphop Viraporn was charged with a variety of offenses, the most serious being fatal DUI, which could land him in prison for 10 years if found guilty.
Lawyer Prinya Sanitchone said examination of witnesses will run through early May, with a verdict expected in June.
The former prime minister, who retains high popularity among her electorate, is on trial at the Supreme Court’s Division for Political Office Holders on charges of negligence. She’s accused of failing to prevent corruption in a key rice subsidy program under her administration which reportedly cost losses of about 1 billion baht.
The last witness examination in her case will take place in July. It is unclear when the verdict will be handed down, but it will likely be the biggest news that day, if not week.
Koh Tao Murders
In December 2015, the court found two Burmese migrant workers guilty of killing two British backpackers on Koh Tao a year earlier, but that did little to quiet questions by those convinced the two men were scapegoats in what was the highest-profile murder case in recent years.
The pair now sits on death row at Bang Kwang Prison in Bangkok while the court considers their appeal, said lawyer Nakhon Chumpuchat.
Unlike the lower court, no witnesses will be called during the appeal process; instead, the court will simply “reinterpret” evidence and testimony already entered in the previous proceedings.
A verdict is expected within the next year or two years from now, Nakhon said.