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The Office of the Attorney General has ruled against indicting military officers accused of killing indigenous Lahu activist Chaiyaphum Pasae.

The Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) said that the lawyer representing Chaiyaphum’s mother received a letter from Nawai Provincial Police Station on 4 March saying that the Office of the Attorney General has decided not to indict military officers charged with Chaiyaphum’s murder.

CrCF said that the ruling was issued on 11 October 2021, but the letter did not reach the family until three years later.

An indigenous rights activist, filmmaker, and songwriter, Chaiyaphum was shot and killed by military officers at Ban Rin Luang checkpoint in Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai, on 17 March 2017. He was 17 years old.

The officers claimed that they found drugs in Chaiyaphum’s car and had to shoot him because he resisted the search and tried to throw a grenade at them. However, an eyewitness told Thai PBS that Chaiyaphum was dragged out of the car, beaten and shot. Forensic evidence found that Chaiyaphum died from a gunshot wound to the chest from an M16 assault rifle.

A June 2018 inquest by the Chiang Mai Provincial Court found that Chaiyaphum was killed by an army bullet, but did not say whether his death was a result of extrajudicial killing. The court also did not inspect the CCTV footage of his murder, which has never been released and remains missing.

In November 2023, the Supreme Court ordered the army to pay a compensation of over two million baht to Chaiyaphum’s family. The Court ruled that evidence presented by the army was inconsistent and found it suspicious that the army did not hand over the hard drive from the CCTV camera until April 2017 and that no footage of Chaiyaphum’s murder was found, even though there was a record of a file from around the date of the murder being copied.

The Court found more credibility in the testimony of a witness who said he saw Chaiyaphum running away from his car and the army officers. In an interview with a reporter immediately after the murder, the witness also asserted said Chaiyaphum did not take anything out of the trunk of the car, a claim that the Court concluded was more in line with the other pieces of evidence.

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