Thailand 7 years since disappearance Somchai Neelapaijit
Seven years after Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaijipit went missing, there is still no prospect of justice. Somchai disappeared on 12 March 2004, one day after he had publicly accused the police of torturing his clients, who were in detention. Since then, nothing has been heard of him. Despite pressure from his family and on the national and international level, those responsible have not yet been held accountable.
Shortly after the disappearance of Somchai, five police officers were arrested and prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the disappearance. Although there were severe suspicions against all five suspects, the court convicted one officer to a three year prison sentence in January 2006, but acquitted the other four. National and international human rights organizations which observed the trial closely, believed that this verdict was the result of an utter failure of the judicial apparatus.
The verdict of the Appeals Court on 11 March 2011 confirms that the Thai government is still unable to answer the question of who is responsible for the disappearance of Somchai. The court acquitted all of the five suspects. Furthermore, the court ruled that Somchai’s wife and children are not eligible to exercise his rights as a damaged party, thereby shutting the door for Somchai’s family to uncover the truth and to seek justice in court.
Here you can find a trail monitoring report from human rights organization Human Rights First who monitored the trial in first instance in 2006 with help from L4L. A statement from the Thai Cross Cultural Foundation in relation to the seventh anniversary of Somchai’s disappearance can be found here.
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