THAILAND: Reaffirmed with the Lower Court, Appeals Court refusing to revoke post mortem inquest order made on the deaths of Tak Bai demonstrators
At 09.00 am, on 8 June 12, an order of the Appeals Court was read concerning a motion brought by the relatives of 34 slain victims of the Tak Bai incident, who filed to request the revocation of a post mortem inquest order made by the Provincial Court of Songkhla in 2009 (B.E.2552). It was claimed that the post mortem inquest order was in breach of provisions of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand and previously, the motion had been dismissed by the Lower Court.
The complainants decided to appeal the case and the Appeals Court made the ruling today that “Reviewing issues to deliberate, the Criminal Court decision should it have jurisdiction over the case. It was deemed that the post mortem inquest order had been made by the Provincial Court of Songkhla, and Ms. Masta and others have filed a motion against the order with the Court. The Appeals Court deems that it does not have the right to review the motion, since it is prohibited as per Section 15 of the Law for the Organization of Courts of Justice, B.E. 2535. The Appeals Court thus reaffirmed with the Lower Court to not to accept to review the case filed by Ms. Masta and others, altogether 34 persons, and dismisses the case”.
The case stems from an order made by the Provincial Court of Songkhla on 29 May 2009 for a post mortem inquest regarding the deaths of 78 demonstrators while they were transferred from the demonstration site in front of the Tak Bai Police Station in Narathiwat to the Ingkhayuth Borihan Army Camp in Nong Chik District, Pattani on 25 Oct 2004 (BE 2547). In the order of the Court, it was ruled that the 78 people had died of suffocation while being held in custody by officials who had carried out their official duties.
Relatives of the victims found the order unjust and in breach of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand including: Sections 3, 27, 28, 32, and 197 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) including: Articles 2, 6, 7, and 14 and in breach of Section 150 of Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
According to these provisions, state officials have to carry out their duties based on the rule of law and respect for human dignity, liberty and equality. But according to testimonies of witnesses in this case, it was found that the act of duties by government officials, which caused many deaths in custody during the transportation of the Tak Bai demonstrators, had not been conducted correctly and fairly. Thus, on 29 June 2009, 34 relatives of the victims decided to file a case to revoke the post mortem inquest order made by the Provincial Court of Songkhla citing their rights provided by the Constitution and given that the Criminal Court has universal jurisdiction all over the territory. According to Section 150 of CPC, the post mortem inquest order of the Provincial Court of Songkhla shall be treated as final and therefore a motion of appeals could not have been filed with the Court of higher instance there. Earlier the Criminal Court decided to dismiss the motion claiming that since the Criminal Court and the Provincial Court of Songkhla are both the Courts of Justice of the First Instance, the Criminal Court could accept to review the case. Then, on 29 July 2009, the relatives appealed the case and then came the order of the Appeals Court as mentioned above.