Human Rights Official Visits Terror Suspects Allegedly Tortured by Soldiers

Soldiers patrol the Criminal Court in Bangkok on 16 March 2015.

BANGKOK – The director of Thailand's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says he visited two of the four men who were allegedly tortured by soldiers during their detention at an army camp last month.

The four men, who are currently awaiting trial for terrorism charges at Bangkok Remand Prison, told their lawyers they were beaten by military officers who detained them at an army barrack for six days before transferring them to police in March. 

NHRC chairman Niran Pitakwatchara said he was accompanied by experts from the Forensic Science Institute yesterday who examined the two prisoners. 

Niran said one of the suspects displayed wounds that appear to have been caused by electrocution, but the official stressed that further investigation is needed. 

"We are waiting for examination results from the Forensic Science Institute, which will be sent to a subcommittee of the NHRC for further deliberation," Niran said. 

One of the suspects, Sansern Sri-unruen, told his lawyer last month that soldiers applied electric shocks to his thighs "30-40 times" because he refused to confess to terror charges. 

The NHRC chairman was previously barred from visiting the four suspects in prison on 25 March. Prison wardens turned Niran away because they said the visit had not been authorized by the director of the prison. 

The four men, Sansern Sri-unruen, Charnvit Jariyanukul, Norapat Luepol, and Wichai Yoosuk, have been accused of participating in a terror plot to "creat chaos" and incite an intervention from the United Nations by staging bomb attacks around Bangkok. 

Police say the network was also responsible for the grenade attack at the Criminal Court on the night 7 March. No one was injured in the explosion, which caused minor damages to the court’s parking lot.

At least 17 arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the case so far.

All arrested suspects have been detained at army camps for up to seven days of interrogation prior to hearing their charges. They are now facing trial in martial court.

According to Niran, the two suspects he met in prison yesterday said they were only tortured under military custody, and not by police officers or prison wardens. 

"The subcommittee will invite representatives of the military to testify about the case. We expect that it will take place after Songkran festival," said Niran, referring to the traditional Thai New Year holiday on 13-15 April. 

If it is established that the four suspects were tortured by the military, Niran said the NHRC will inform the police and urge them to prosecute the officers who committed the wrongdoing. 

Related coverage:
Martial Court Denies Alleged Torture Victim Bail
Army Chief Threatens Legal Action Over Torture Allegation

 

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