Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
Death in Custody: Death of Mr. Surakrich Chaimongkon in Bangkok Remand Prison,
With a lack of impartial and effective investigation,
Perpetrator (s) will not be brought to justice
For immediate release on 8 April 2015
On 2 April 2015, a post mortem inquest was conducted in room 905 of the Criminal Court in the Black Case no. OJ9/2557 over the death of Mr. Surakrich Chaimongkon, 35 years, who was accused of shooting dead Mr. Suthin Tharathin, a core member of those opposing elections on 26 January 2014. The arrest of Mr. Surakrich took place on 8 July 2014 invoking Martial Law and he was brought to custody at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 9 July 2014. He was pronounced dead on 28 August 2014 at the Bangkok Remand Prison due to unnatural, albeit unclear causes.
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has been requested to provide legal aid and legal representation in the inquest trial. The deceased’s relatives have complained and demanded an investigation of the genuine cause of death since prior to his death, Mr. Surakrich was found to be healthy. In addition, wounds and abrasions were found all over the body of his and his death came all of a sudden. The relatives became suspicious of the causes of his death.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has found the investigation of the death in custody of Mr. Surakrich delay, ineffective and intended to cover the truth.
On 2 April 2015, the Criminal Court on Ratchada Rd. has conducted the inquest trial and had three witnesses giving their evidence including Ms. Aree Chaimongkon, Mr. Surakrich’s mother, Mr. Sawian Saengphan, who was at the time the chief guard of inmates in zone 4, the Bangkok Remand Prison, and one fellow inmate in zone 4 at the Bangkok Remand Prison.
Mr. Surakrich’s mother has requested for a chance to examine witnesses and to propose more witnesses. An attorney was appointed to act in her behalf. After examination of the three witnesses, the attorney has asked the Court to schedule the examination of the doctor who conducted autopsy and the inquiry officials in the next hearing since they are important witnesses who may give detail to determine the cause of death and to identify who inflicted the death as per Article 150 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code. With no objection from the prosecution, the Court scheduled the hearing on 21 May 2015.
Death in custody including in prison is a human right situation in Thailand to which the UN Committee against Torture has been paying attention. In its Concluding observations on the initial report of Thailand on 23 May 2014, it states that the State party should compile statistical data relevant to the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention at the national level, including data on complaints, investigations, prosecutions and convictions of above-mentioned cases of torture and ill-treatment, deaths in custody, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence, trafficking, as well as on means of redress, including compensation and rehabilitation, provided to the victims. Such data should be submitted to the Committee when compiled.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has found the investigation of the death in custody of Mr. Surakrich Chaimongkon is delayed, ineffective and intended to cover the truths, particularly those concerned with the incidence that took place the night of 27 August in the sleeping cell and the morning when he was transferred to the prison informatory on 28 August 2014. There is no transparent information over the result of the treatment in the informatory of the Bangkok Remand Prison and in the Corrections Hospital in which Mr. Surakrich was pronounced dead at 17.20. An inquest by the Court which fails to uncover facts from independent sources often leads to no success to determine the cause of death in prison and it shall not serve the justice of the deceased and his relatives.
CrCF urges that the inquiry officials and the Department of Corrections set out guidelines for investigation of death in custody to ensure its prompt, independent, and effective investigation in all cases. It shall be a guarantee that any death in prison caused by human rights abuses is prevented and enable relatives to have access to redress and remedies, sufficiently and properly. The perpetrators must be brought to justice and the persons committing human rights violation must not enjoy impunity.
Please contact Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF),