Songkhla - A Thai court on Friday ruled that there was no misconduct on the part of security officials who involved in the Tak Bai incident five years ago that caused the death of 85 Thai-Muslims.
Bernama news agency said the two-member panel on the post-mortem inquest concluded that army and police officials acted according to the law, used their judgment to deal with the pressing situation and did their best based on the circumstances of the situation then.
The court said the officials were carrying out their duties and had compelling reasons to transport over 1,000 detained demonstrators from Tak Bai mosque to Ingkayuthaborihaan Army Camp in Pattani on Oct 25, 2004.
The online said the incident happened when over 1,500 people took part in a demonstration in front of the Tak Bai Police Station to demand the release of six village defence volunteers who were detained on suspicion of filing false reports to the police concerning a robbery of government-issued shotguns.
Police sprayed water and fired tear gas at the protesters while live ammunition were fired into the sky and at crowd level to break-up the demonstration that resulted in the deaths of seven people.
Some 1,292 persons were arrested and detained by the authorities. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), those detained were beaten with batons, kicked and punched, some whilst lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.
The detained persons were then loaded into trucks where they were piled up in many layers and transferred to Ingkayuthaborihaan Camp, a journey that took several hours. A total of 78 people were found dead in the trucks in the incident that occurred during the Muslim fasting month.
He said although there was video-tape footage of the incident that showed some people clad in uniform causing injuries to the demonstrators, there was no clear indication if it was done on the orders of their superiors or individuals taking impromptu action to deal with the demonstrators.
The inquest also found that the demonstrators were not carried out peacefully, as there were gunshot from an unknown source before the crackdown and weapons found at the nearby river after the incident.
Officials were also cleared of any wrongdoing as they were acting under the Emergency Decree. The Section 17 of the decree stated officials couldn't be subjected to civil, criminal or disciplinary liabilities arising from them while performing their duty.
Interesting development. I am surprised Thaksin didn't get blamed. He gets blamed for every act of violence in Thailand that occurred during his tenure.
If security forces were granted immunity for doing their duties under the auspices of law, I think it would be hard to find them liable.
On the other hand, there was nothing stopping the military from punishing those responsible on their own or there could have been a firing of those generals responsible.
I guess this ruling proves once again that the military can do whatever it wants whenever it feels like it without any legal or political accountability.
It is interesting that all the Thaksin haters blamed him for the war on drugs and the violence in the south, but the legal system has exonerated him. Remember the meme: Thaksin is the source of all evil in the world; Thai generals are the saviours of the nation and their crimes are irelevent to Thaksin's evil.
I guess the media, not the legal system, determines who is and who isn't a "human rights abuser" depending on their political persuasion and whether or not they are allied with the military.