DSI to Prosecute Officers Over Teen’s Death Amid Scrutiny of Thaksin’s Drug War
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is taking decisive action by prosecuting six police officers linked to the death of a teenager in Roi Et, an event that is reigniting criticism of the Thaksin Shinawatra administration’s contentious war on drugs five years prior. This development is part of a broader investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings of 21 youths in Kalasin, highlighting concerns over human rights abuses during the campaign.
The case centers on 17-year-old Kiattisak Thitboonkrong, whose life came to a tragic end in July 2004 when he was found hanged in a hut in Roi Et’s Chang Han district. After an exhaustive investigation involving over 100 witnesses, the DSI is moving forward with charges of premeditated murder and concealing evidence against three commissioned and three non-commissioned officers from Muang Kalasin police station.
The implicated officers, including three senior sergeants-major who have already surrendered and denied the charges, are set to face the Criminal Court. The names of the three higher-ranking officers, a colonel and two lieutenant colonels, remain undisclosed, but they are expected to present themselves in early June.
Pol Col Piyawat Kingkate, leading the DSI’s special criminal cases unit, stated that Kiattisak’s death represents a severe violation of human rights by state officials. He emphasized that the case transcends mere abuse of authority, constituting a criminal offense demanding stringent punishment.
Evidence suggests Kiattisak was subjected to physical assault prior to his death, contradicting initial police reports and sparking further investigation. The victim, who had been arrested on theft and drug charges, was released on bail by an unrelated individual and never made it home, only to be discovered dead some 100km from his residence.
The DSI is also extending its probe to the mysterious fatalities of other youths in Kalasin, following Kiattisak’s case. These investigations are set against the backdrop of the Thaksin government’s aggressive anti-drug efforts from 2003 to 2005, which saw Kalasin declared the first “drug-free” province amid allegations of widespread extra-judicial executions.
With eight families already seeking justice for their lost loved ones, Pol Col Piyawat hinted at the potential for uncovering more about the 21 teenagers’ suspicious deaths. The lack of arrests in these cases further compounds suspicions of systemic rights abuses.
Human rights advocates, including Somchai Homlaor of the Campaign for Human Rights, laud the breakthrough in Kiattisak’s case as a pivotal moment that could inspire more families affected by the war on drugs to seek justice. Despite over 2,500 deaths attributed to the campaign, few have been thoroughly investigated, with authorities often blaming inter-cartel violence, a claim disputed by bereaved families alleging police-led street justice.
This legal action against the officers involved in Kiattisak’s death marks a significant step towards addressing the darker aspects of Thailand’s anti-drug campaign, offering a glimmer of hope for accountability and justice for the victims of alleged state-sanctioned violence.
Ah, the plot thickens in the grand saga of the War on Drugs, featuring a twist that’s been brewing longer than a pot of Thai iced tea in the midday sun. It’s time to don my scholar’s cap, adjust my spectacles, and dive deep into the murky waters of political machinations, where Thaksin’s anti-drug crusade doubles as a magician’s trick to make political opposition disappear. Voila!
Just like Khun Somchai Homlaor, who’s probably popping the popcorn as we speak. After years of what felt like an intermission long enough for everyone to forget what the play was about, justice might finally be taking center stage. Here’s to hoping this isn’t a one-hit-wonder but the start of a justice tour de force that has the audience demanding an encore. So, grab your tickets, folks. This show might just be getting started, and if my scholarly senses are tingling correctly, we’re in for quite the performance.