Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Executed Teerasak may be a victim of 'miscarriage of justice'?
BANGKOK — Death penalty opponents were caught by surprise by Thailand’s first execution in nine years Monday night while officials are offering no explanation.
After 26-year-old Teerasak Longji was executed at Bangkok’s Bang Kwang Central Prison by lethal injection for aggravated murder, the leading group calling for abolition of capital punishment said Tuesday it deplored the decision and had no idea why the unexpected execution occurred now.
“We are not sure,” Amnesty International Thailand Director Piyanut Kotsan said Tuesday morning when asked about the timing.
Piyanut said Amnesty was not in the loop despite years of discussions with the Justice Ministry. She said her understanding was that Thailand has committed to becoming an abolitionist state as reflected in its master plan for human rights.
The last execution occurred in 2009 when two men were put to death for drug-related crimes. This past October, the head of the government’s human rights agency signaled the death penalty, which had been in de facto moratorium since 2009, would eventually be abolished.
“I can’t say when it will end but in practice it will soon be 10 years since no execution has taken place,” Pitikan Sitthidej said in October. “We don’t know when the death penalty will be abolished.”
Amnesty Thai director Piyanut said that standard practice for the last resort of clemency has been to obtain a royal pardon commuting death to life in prison. She said it’s unclear whether a royal pardon had been sought by Teerasak, who six years ago stabbed a 17-year-old high school student 24 times to steal his smartphone and wallet in Trang province.
Corrections Department chief Narat Savettan declined to comment Tuesday on the circumstances.
“I cannot give any comment about this,” he said, adding that the department would not issue any further statement on the matter.
A statement from Narat released Monday shed new light on why an execution had taken place after nine years. The last paragraph of the statement stated hope the execution would serve as deterrence.
“It is hoped that this execution will give pause to those thinking of committing heinous crimes or violating the law to consider the penalty,” it read.
The statement also pointed out that since the introduction of modern execution in 1935, 325 executions have taken place.
Someone who answered the phone at Bang Kwang Prison said its director, Sophon Yimpreecha was out for a meeting and could not be immediately reached.
Amnesty Thailand issued a statement Monday saying execution is deplorable and will not reduce crime.
“This is a deplorable violation of the right to life. Thailand is shockingly reneging on its own commitment to move towards abolition of the death penalty and the protection of the right to life, and is also putting itself out of step with the current global shift away from capital punishment,” wrote Katherine Gerson, an Amnesty campaigner in Thailand.
According to Amnesty Thailand, 510 people were on death row as of the end of 2017, 94 of which were women. The number of those who have exhausted all final appeals is 193.
Gerson wrote that there is no evidence that the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect, “so the Thai authorities’ hopes that this move will reduce crime is deeply misguided.”
Kingsley Abbot, senior legal advisor for the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, tweeted on Monday that execution is never justifiable and “flies in the face of Thailand’s repeated commitments on the international to work towards abolition.”
Amnesty announced it will hold a demonstration outside Bang Kwang at 2pm this afternoon.- Khaosod English, 19/6/2018
TRANG — A local police investigator Friday downplayed the significance of new claims that an inmate executed earlier this week did not murder a high school student six years ago but acknowledged another perpetrator is still on the run.
After the first execution in nine years sent shockwaves and drew criticism from rights groups here and abroad, police responded to doubts cast on the efficiency of their investigation by insisting witnesses and evidence irrefutably tied 26-year-old Teerasak Longji to the 2012 crime in Trang province, although they have yet to investigate the new claim.
“It’s actually not my duty to investigate what is ungrounded. All details are already in the case file,” said Lt. Col Prasert Songsaeng, who’s in charge of the case. “I’m not going to dismiss it, but if he really knew about the case, he’d have come to us a long time ago.”
Prasert said police will seek the unidentified witness for an interview.
The witness’s claim emerged yesterday online. In it he said that he and another friend saw two other teenagers repeatedly stab another teen while he was riding a motorbike past the scene. He stopped to see what was happening and had to flee the perpetrators. He said Teerasak, whom he was familiar with, was not present at the time.
Then he saw Teerasak riding toward the scene on a motorbike from the opposite direction and warned him not to continue.
Teerasak was accused and convicted of stabbing a 17-year-old high school student 24 times before stealing his smartphone and wallet. Police said Danudet Sookmak, the victim, was chased about 200 meters before ending up in the park where he was brutally murdered. Danudet’s girlfriend was also there trying to stop the culprits, according to police.
On Wednesday, Trang city police said they were still looking for another suspect involved in the crime. The victim’s parents said they urged police years ago to look for another perpetrator, but they claim investigators were dismissive, telling them to gather witnesses and evidence themselves.
According to Prasert, police were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Teerasak, who had several drug- and weapons-related crimes on his record, within a day of the murder based on strong witness statements. They captured him the next day. He added that Teerasak has never confessed.
“We’re keeping up the investigation to bring in another perpetrator,” Prasert said on Friday.- Khaosod English, 22/6/2018