Somchai Neelapaijit defended terrorists in the turbulent south of Thailand. He disappeared on 12 March 2004, shortly after having publicly for accusing the police of torturing his clients in prison. Nothing has been heard of him since. His car was found empty. Despite pressure from Somchai’s family, Thai society and the international community, those responsible have still not been held accountable.
Shortly after Somchai’s disappearance, five police officers were arrested and prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the disappearance. Although there were serious suspicions concerning all suspects, only one of the officers received a three-year prison sentence, while the four others were acquitted. National and international human rights organisations concluded that the outcome was the result of an utter failure of the judicial apparatus.
The judgment on appeal, on 11 March 2011, confirmed that the Thai authorities are as yet unable to answer the question of who was responsible for Somchai’s disappearance. The Court acquitted all of the five suspects. It also ruled that Somchai’s wife and children were not eligible to exercise their rights as an aggrieved party and, in that capacity, to uncover the truth of this matter.
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