Charges against man accused of shooting PDRC protesters dismissed

A criminal court has dismissed charges against a man accused of shooting at PDRC demonstrators, since the accused’s confession was made under duress.

On 27 December 2016, the Criminal Court of Thailand dismissed a second criminal charge filed against Somsak Poonsawat, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported.

Somsak was indicted for allegedly shooting at demonstrators representing the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), an anti-election group, in the eastern province of Trat on 22 February 2014. During protests that day, three people died from bullet wounds while 33 others were injured.  

The first charge Somsak faced was murder while the second charge was possession of illegal weapons. The criminal court dismissed the murder charge against him in January 2016.

The court has now dismissed both charges against him, concluding that he was forced to confess during the interrogation process.  

The court dismissed Somsak’s confession made while he was detained in Trat prison, reasoning that Somsak made the confession after his interrogators told him they would not press charges against him if he confessed.

The court stated that Somsak merely said what soldiers told him to testify during the interrogation process. He was not shown a copy of the written statement recorded by the interrogators before it was submitted.

Somsak was arrested by soldiers on 23 May 2014. He was detained at a military camp in Trat before being handed to the police.

TLHR reported that while being detained at the military base, soldiers tortured him during an initial interrogation. Soldiers reportedly suffocated him with plastic bags, beat him and threatened to kill him.

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