Court Official Says No Meddling in Judges’ Works

Court of Justice sec-gen Sarawut Benchakul visits Yala judge Khanakorn Pianchana in hospital on Oct. 6, 2019. Image: Court of Justice.

BANGKOK — The judicial branch on Monday launched an investigation into a recent attempted suicide by a judge who said he was protesting interference from the court higher-ups.

Court of Justice sec-gen Sarawut Benchakul said three court officials were appointed as a fact-finding committee, and they must report their findings to the agency within 15 days. He also announced that the judge who shot himself, Khanakorn Pianchana, is now in stable condition.

Read: Judge’s Protest by Attempted Suicide Shakes Judicial Authority

Although Sarawut said the committee will conduct its work impartially, he dismissed allegations of meddling in the justice system in yesterday’s news conference.

Sarawut said the Court of Justice is “fair and independent.” He also said senior court officials always respect verdicts reached by the judges under their supervision.

Khanakorn shot himself in the chest on Friday inside a courtroom in Yala province, moments after acquitting five men of murder.

In a written statement leaked to social media after the shooting, Khanakorn said he was pressured by his supervisor to find the men guilty despite a lack of concrete evidence.

Sarawut said the judge is now out of ICU. He said he has visited Khanakorn in hospital, but said the pair did not discuss the grievances that allegedly prompted Khanakorn to shoot himself.

A statement by the hospital said Khanakorn suffered injuries in his spleen.