Friday, January 11, 2008

Top police 'at fault'

Top police 'at fault'

The National Human Rights Commission yesterday ruled that police were culpable in wrongly implicating two businessmen as bombers responsible for an explosion at Seacon Square shopping complex on New Year's Eve in 2006.

Published on January 8, 2008

Welcoming the decision, Pratya Preechavej said later that he would hold the Royal Thai Police and certain senior investigators criminally responsible for their actions and would file a civil lawsuit demanding Bt50 million in damages in return for his rights being violated.

The NHRC said the police decision to still take further criminal action against the two men, who surrendered themselves to police, without sufficient evidence was a "stark violation against justice and human rights".

The NHRC did not say how the police action was a criminal liability or how the police would exactly compensate for their actions against the two men.

A few months after the bombing, pictures of Pratya and his friend Yutthaphong Kittisriworraphan were put on a wanted poster indicating they planted a bomb in a waste bin in the shopping complex in Bangkok's Prawet district. Police relied solely on footage from security cameras showing the two men walking around the area as their only evidence that they were the bombers.

Inspecting police investigation reports and the evidence, the joint 10-member NHRC panel found police had no sufficient evidence the men had anything to do with the explosion at the Seacon Square.

"Putting the pictures of both men on a wanted poster in the first place is already a violation of rights on their freedom, reputation and privacy, as well as those belonging to their family members," the NHRC statement said.

Even after both men turned themselves in, police declined to invalidate their arrest warrants and later pressed five serious charges against them. Pratya and Yutthaphong were held for one night in police custody at Prawet Police Station before they were released on bail at Bt100,000 each.

Pratya said he would also seek to have the indictment against him and his friend revoked, as it was still valid and legally viable against them in the public prosecution's process. "I will take my action once the 15-day mourning period for the late Princess Galyani Vadhana is over on January 17," he added.

The man said his newly opened restaurant was forced to close down because of losses resulting from customers who shunned the place, and a musical website he was running had been operating at loss because musicians turned away from him after learning of the wanted poster.

Head investigator Pol Maj-General Jate Mongkholhatthee said he "felt no worries" over the NHRC decision and that the men "could do whatever they wanted to".

"Police had been acting on the evidence available," he added.

The Nation

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