Court Recognizes Disappearance of Muslim Lawyer, Paving Way for Asset Control by Widow
A court has officially declared Mr. Somchai, a Muslim lawyer and human rights advocate, as legally missing, a decision stemming from a petition by his wife, Mrs. Angkhana, to gain legal control over his assets. Mrs. Angkhana, herself a human rights campaigner in Pattani, firmly believes her husband met with foul play, allegedly abducted by police on Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkok on March 12, 2004. According to the law, a person can be declared missing after a five-year absence, the court noted, allowing Mrs. Angkhana to proceed with managing her husband’s estate.
This ruling follows a 2006 Criminal Court sentence of Pol Maj Ngern Thongsuk of the Crime Suppression Division to three years in jail in connection to Mr. Somchai’s disappearance. Thongsuk is believed to have fled abroad post-release on bail during his appeal.
Mr. Somchai’s case drew attention as he volunteered to defend three suspected Muslim separatists in Thailand’s deep South, who were later acquitted. He had accused officers of employing torture to extract confessions during the trial.
In related news, violence continues to plague the region with two military rangers injured in a bomb attack in Yala’s Bannang Sata district, and another bomb explosion in Narathiwat’s Bacho district, although no injuries were reported there. Police have detained two men near the Bacho explosion site under suspicion.
Additionally, a karaoke bar in Narathiwat was the target of a bomb attack, with explosives detonating on the premises without resulting in injuries, thanks to bomb disposal experts defusing a secondary device in time.
The incidents underscore ongoing tensions in the Muslim-majority southern provinces, where insurgents have threatened violent disruptions, particularly aimed at the educational sector, as the new school semester begins. Schools across Narathiwat reopened under heightened security, with military escorts for teachers and increased patrols, especially in high-risk districts, reflecting the government’s efforts to maintain stability amidst the insurgency.
Dive into the tale of Somchai Neelaphaijit, where the plot thickens faster than curry on a Bangkok stove. This story has it all: police shenanigans that would make a soap opera villain blush, and a backdrop of political turmoil that could rival any thriller set in the Deep South during the prime time of the Thaksin soap opera, with a special guest appearance by the US-led War on Terror.
Here’s the scoop: Somchai was defending three individuals accused of being part of Jamaah Islamiyah, which is basically the “Who’s Who” of groups you don’t want on your resume, especially during a period when Thailand was getting the side-eye from the US for not passing the War on Terror spirit stick around. The arrest of these three was like a golden ticket for those looking to sing the “Global Jihadism is Coming to Town” carol, backed by a chorus featuring the Bush administration and a band of academics, ‘terrorism analysts’, and other folks keen on playing the war drums.
In this orchestra of oversimplification, where local Muslim separatist movements were suddenly part of a global hit parade of threats, Somchai found himself not just battling police corruption and a heavy-handed justice system but also navigating the choppy waters of a Southeast Asia newly christened as the ‘second front’ in the War on Terror. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place, or in this case, between neo-conservative policies and a geopolitical hot pot.
So, as the curtain falls on this act of our geopolitical drama, Somchai Neelaphaijit remains a poignant symbol of the tangled webs woven when politics, justice, and international agendas collide. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the biggest threats don’t come from the shadows, but from those holding the spotlight.