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Criticism will grow if CCTV footage of extrajudicial killing is released: Army

THE RELEASE of CCTV footage will not ease public doubts about the recent extrajudicial killing of young Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae, Army chief General Chalermchai Sittisart said yesterday.

“I have already watched the footage. It does not answer several questions. So I think even if it is released, it will only spur criticism,” he said.
According to a team from NOW television, which like The Nation is part of the Nation Group, one witness saw a young man being beaten up at a military checkpoint and was shot while trying to run away. That victim was believed to be Chaiyapoom.
“I didn’t know Chaiyapoom in person. But I feel sad for him. He’s unarmed,” this witness was quoted as saying.
Police hinted that they might not publicly release any crucial evidence in Chaiyapoom’s case, which has received attention from the Thai public as well as international groups.
While police described Chaiyapoom as a suspected drug dealer, people close to him remembered him as a role-model teenager.
“We can’t disclose what will affect ongoing proceedings of the case,” Deputy Police Spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said yesterday.
He spoke just a day after the Development Quality of Life Lahu Association demanded the release of the video footage and financial documents related to Chaiyapoom’s alleged illicit activity.
The footage apparently was meant to constitute key evidence to determine exactly what happened to Chaiyapoom at a military checkpoint in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao district on March 17. Soldiers have claimed Chaiyapoom brandished a knife and a hand grenade in a threatening manner, prompting a soldier to open fire in self-defence. Chaiyapoom died from a single bullet wound.
Army Area 3 chief Lt-General Vijak Siribunsop later said CCTV footage backed up the claim, but he added that the decision to make the footage publicly available would depend on a court decision.
Provincial Police Region 5 commissioner Pol Lt-General Poonsap Prasertsak said yesterday the military had not yet forwarded the CCTV footage to police. But he said there was clear evidence Chaiyapoom had engaged in the illicit drug trade for years.
National Police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said the case was not complicated.
“It’s a drug case,” he said.
Krissana said ongoing police inquiries involved three elements: Chaiyapoom’s alleged drug offences, his autopsy and the extrajudicial killing by a soldier.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member Angkhana Neelapaijit said she had already met with two witnesses to the killing.
“One of them heard gunshots and rushed to see what was going on. Soldiers blocked him and said nothing had happened,” Angkhana said.
She said an NHRC subcommittee was investigating the killing.


Published : March 28, 2017

By : Stanley Bennett, Suriya Patathayo The Nation The Nation