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Supreme Court dismisses confession, new evidence and upholds deaf mute man’s murder conviction


THE parents of Passakorn Sangkhee – a 29-year-old deaf and mute Bang Rachan man sentenced to 20 years in jail almost a decade ago for a 2008 murder – broke down in tears after the Sing Buri Provincial Court yesterday read the Supreme Court’s verdict to keep him in jail.

The court ruled that new evidence and witnesses were gathered more than two years after the crime, during which time the evidence could have been fabricated. Physical evidence presented in his bid for a retrial was not “credible”, the ruling stated.
New eyewitness testimony presented to Justice Ministry officials clashed with testimony given to police during the arrest of another suspect in the case, while other witnesses were not at the scene of the crime, the ruling stated. The court concluded that Passakorn did not have new evidence that was sufficient to prove his innocence. 
Although an unnamed suspect later confessed to the murder, the court stated he was motivated by Justice Ministry officials and Passakorn’s family, while lie-detector results did not provide clear or accurate results. 
The court dismissed the family’s request for a retrial and ordered that Passakorn, who had been released on bail pending the Supreme Court verdict after serving over five years behind bars, be returned to prison. He will be sent to jail where he will be eligible to apply for a sentence reduction available for prisoners who have served a third of their sentence. 
Passakorn’s lawyer Khomhan Paisuwan said the fact that the unnamed suspect had met Passakorn in jail cast doubt on his client’s claim of innocence.
The lawyer said he would apply for Passakorn’s jail term to be reduced, as he had already served a third of his sentence. Khomhan said Passakorn wished to prove his innocence and had used the right to apply for a criminal case retrial, so he was proud that he had tried and would accept the court verdict.
Passakorn’s parents Somchai and Sanoh Sangkhee, who believe their son is innocent, had also asked the Justice Ministry to help apply for a retrial. They broke down in tears after the verdict was read and relatives had to help them walk out of the court. 
His father Somchai tearfully said that no one had helped his innocent son, while his sobbing mother Sanoh later fell to her knees in front of the court staircase. “What would you do if it were your family member who was sent to jail?” she asked.
Sanoh said her hopes to help her son had been crushed after almost a decade, adding that she would submit a petition to the King.
In Bangkok, Suebpong Sripongkul, a spokesman for the Courts of Justice, said that given the Supreme Court refusal to grant a retrial, Passakorn would have to complete his original 20-year jail term. He also said that earlier reports stating that the case was the first retrial under the Retrial of Criminal Cases Act 1983 were incorrect. He said there had been other petitions for retrials that the Supreme Court had also dismissed. 
A source said the Region 1 Appeals Court asked the Sing Buri Provincial Court to hold hearings on “new evidence” in Passakorn’s request for a retrial. Those hearings were held on February 12 and March 2 in 2015. The Sing Buri Court was ordered on May 29, 2015 to take up the retrial request in line with the 1983 Retrial Act. 
The provincial court’s findings and judges’ opinions were then submitted to the Supreme Court.

Published : April 11, 2017

By : JIRAMAN KHAMCHA, KESINEE TAENGKHIEO THE NATION SING BURI