Relatives of victims killed by security forces during the Thaksin administration's "war on drugs" petitioned the government yesterday for compensation.
Pikul Phromchan, the aunt of 17-year-old Kiattisak Thitboonkrong - who was murdered by Kalasin police in July 2004 during the war on drugs campaign - filed the petition with the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.
Ms Pikul submitted the petition on behalf of the families of 29 victims in Kalasin, of whom 22 were killed and six disappeared.
The final case involves a witness in the Kiattisak murder who later died under suspicious circumstances in a car accident, according to Ms Pikul.
The petition followed the Criminal Court's July 30 conviction of five police officers from Kalasin's Muang district for Kiattisak's murder. Three of the defendants were sentenced to death, another was sentenced to life imprisonment and the third was sentenced to seven years in prison.
All five were released on bail the day after their conviction.
Ms Pikul says she was initially told that Mr Chalerm would meet her, but instead she was met by his secretary, who received the petition.
Ms Pikul has visited several agencies including the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Lawyers' Council of Thailand to thank them for supporting her fight for justice.
The DSI has asked Ms Pikul and two other key witnesses in the Kiattisak case to formally acknowledge the end of their witness protection coverage. Ms Pikul said she has been asked to sign release forms by next Tuesday.
The witness protection scheme expired last month when the five policemen were convicted for the murder of her nephew.
"We don't want to sign it off, but we have no choice. In the meantime, we would like to call on the Justice Ministry or other agencies to continue to protect us," said Ms Pikul.
The Criminal Court's July 30 conviction has received plaudits from international NGOs. But the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission expressed dismay that the court released all of the convicted killers on bail, despite the severity of the crime.
"Now, Kiattisak's family and the witnesses who testified against the police require continued protection, to ensure the accused do not attempt to threaten, harm or kill those persons out of revenge," the commission said yesterday.
A petition has also been filed requesting compensation for victims of the government crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations in 1992.
Metha Madkao, a representative of the May 1992 Relatives Network, filed documents last month on behalf of families of the 74 protesters who died and 38 who disappeared during the crackdown.
The 1992 Network filed its the appeal with Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, asking the government to provide a compensation package for the families' losses.
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- Writer: Achara Ashayagachat