Skip to main content

Narathiwat Provincial Court has dismissed the case of Imam Yapha Kaseng on the grounds that it is not under its jurisdiction, and told his wife to turn to the military courts instead.  However, individuals cannot bring cases to a military court; only the authorities can do so.

On 2 Sept, Narathiwat Provincial Court ruled on a criminal case brought by Yapha Kaseng’s wife Nima against 5 military officers and one policeman for detaining and torturing her husband to death while in their custody.

The court dismissed all charges against the police officer who the plaintiff alleged to have breached police regulations and Yapha’s constitutional rights by bringing him and others to a press conference while they were merely suspects.  The court ruled that the regulations were not law, and the constitution has no penalty provisions.  The fact that the police officer brought a police detention vehicle for the military to use to detain Yapha and others inside the 39th ad hoc unit base was in accordance with the orders of the military under Martial Law.

And the court also dismissed all charges against the other 5 defendants, all military officers, on the grounds that the case falls under the jurisdiction of the military courts.

Narathiwat Provincial Court then ordered the case to be removed from the case-list and told the plaintiff that if she wanted to prosecute the 5 defendants, she could bring the case to the military courts.  It instructed her, in doing so, to inform the military court in her indictment that this case had been lodged and dismissed by this court, and also to attach copies of the verdict and the report on the trial process.

According to the Cross Cultural Foundation and the Muslim Lawyers Centre, this was the first lawsuit in the Southern border provinces to be brought against the authorities by an affected individual.  Citizens cannot bring cases to military courts by themselves, but only through the military attorney-general.  Currently, the case has been forwarded by the police to the National Counter Corruption Committee, but no progress has yet been made as to when the NCCC will finish its investigation and submit the case to the military attorney-general.

The plaintiff will appeal against the provincial court’s ruling in favour of the police officer, on the grounds that no law or regulation can contradict the constitution, which is the country’s highest law, and state agencies, including the courts, are obliged to enact, enforce and interpret the law in accordance with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.  The act of the sixth defendant in bringing suspects to a press conference was in breach of police regulations and the constitution, and is punishable under the Criminal Code.

Yapha Kaseng, an Imam at Koto village mosque, Rueso District, Narathiwat, was arrested by military and police personnel on 19 March 2008.  He and other suspects were brought to a press conference and presented as allies of insurgents.

He died on 21 March 2008 at the base of the 39th Narathiwat ad hoc unit in Rueso District.

After filing a complaint with police and seeing slow progress, his wife brought a lawsuit herself at the Provincial Court on 20 Aug 2009.

Prachatai English's Logo

Prachatai English is an independent, non-profit news outlet committed to covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite pressure from the authorities. Your support will ensure that we stay a professional media source and be able to meet the challenges and deliver in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”