Released on 8 December 2015
Invitation to observe Defence Witness Hearings
Chiang Mai Provincial Court on the 9th and 11th December 2015
On the death of Private Somchai Si-ueangdoi
In accordance with requests from the victim’s relatives to the Lawyers Council of Thailand and Institute for Jurists and Human Rights Development for assistance in filing a case in the Civil Court (Ratchadapisek Road, Bangkok), Black Case Pho. 289/2558 was filed to the court with Mrs Saisuda Si-ueangdoi as the plaintiff suing three agencies—the Ministry of Defence as first defendant, the Army as second defendant and the Prime Minister’s Office as third defendant—on charges of wrongful action to demand damages in the case of the death of Private Somchai Si-ueangdoi at a Chiang Mai hospital after he was sent to the hospital for care from the Kawila Military Camp in Chiang Mai at which he was based while undergoing military recruit training. After the Bangkok Civil Court heard evidence from plaintiff witnesses on 26 August 2015, the Civil Court referred the issue of hearing the evidence of defence witnesses to the Chiang Mai Provincial Court. The Chiang Mai Provincial Court set the dates for hearing defence witness evidence as Wednesday 9 and Friday 11 December 2015. On those days a total of 6 defence witnesses, including 2 doctors and 4 other witnesses, will give evidence. Persons who are interested in the case and the media are invited to observe the trial on both days.
The facts in the case are: An incident occurred between 21 and 23 January 2014. The person who died, Private Somchai Si-ueangdoi, was 20 years old and was a soldier based at Kawila Camp in Chiang Mai province. The facts per his relatives’ claim are that Private Somchai was tortured by three military personnel, who punished him by using a metal bucket to cover his head and weapons to hit him on the head, back and chest 20 times. After that, Private Somchai informed his mother by phone that he had been tortured. Subsequently, on 28 January 2014, Private Somchai was taken to the Kawila Camp hospital to receive medical care. His symptoms were that he was coughing, had a sore throat, and was fatigued, breathless and sweating. Nurses at the Kawila Camp hospital assessed his symptoms, and determined they were severe. They understood he had an infection. They therefore sent him to Theppanya Hospital, Chiang Mai, where he died on 29 January 2014 at 10:40am.
Subsequently, the corpse was sent to Maharat Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital for an autopsy. The doctor who conducted the autopsy recorded that there were no wounds on the body, and that the reason for death whilst being treated at Theppanya Hospital, Chiang Mai was infection with avian influenza and pneumonia. After the death of Private Somchai a committee was also set up to investigate the guilt of the three military personnel as was requested by Mrs Saisuda Si-ueangdoi, the mother of Private Somchai. The committee found that the deceased had not been tortured in any way. However, his relatives make the observation that in the camp there were 20 persons infected with avian influenza, but only Private Somchai died. His relatives believed that before going on duty he had been in good health and physical condition. Between the 23 and 28 January his relatives communicated with Private Somchai by phone, and were told that he was receiving medical care for physical injuries after having been abused in the military camp, which might have been punishment due to Private Somchai having returned to the military camp 14 days late following a holiday break.
Due to his relatives still being unconvinced as to his cause of death and responsibility for it, as they believe it was death whilst he was under the supervision and care of the recruit instructor, on 23 May 2015 his mother, Mrs Saisuda, filed a case to demand damages from the agencies with which the military personnel who engaged in the wrongful actions were affiliated to the Civil Court, Bangkok. She demanded damages to cover: damages to the right and liberty in life and person and mental suffering of 5,000,000 baht; funeral expenses of 300,000 baht, with the defendants having already made a payment of 40,000 baht to assist with funeral expenses before the plaintiff had filed the case; and loss of financial support and labour to a total value of 12,600,000 baht calculated at a rate of 30,000 baht per month till Mrs Saisuda reached the age of 95 (a total of 35 years) on the basis that Mrs Saisuda had relied solely on Private Somchai to earn a living and support the family.
At the first hearing on 26 August 2015 at the Civil Court, which was designated for hearing plaintiff witnesses, three plaintiff witnesses gave evidence. They were: Mrs Saisuda Si-ueangdoi the mother of the deceased (evidence was given through a Karan-Thai translator); Miss Chamaiporn Si-ueangdoi, the older sister of the deceased; and Mrs Nittaya Wangpaiboon, the lawyer who provided case assistance to Mrs Saisuda and her family.
For further information please contact: Cross Cultural Foundation: 02-6934939 or Mrs Nittaya Wangpaiboon, lawyer: 081-9939061