Koh Tao murders: Police avoid NHRC a fourth time

Koh Tao murders: Police avoid NHRC a fourth time

Police handling the Koh Tao murders case have for the fourth time missed their appointment with the National Human Rights Commission to counter charges they tortured suspects into confessing.

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Niran Pitakwatchara, head of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sub-committee on civil and political rights, chairs a meeting on the Koh Tao case last week. Thai police were not present. APICHIT JINAKUL

Police refuse to answer 'torture' claim

Human rights agency mulls filing complaint

Paritta Wangkiat & Wassayos Ngamkham

Police handling the Koh Tao murders case have again stood up the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has repeatedly invited investigators to its headquarters to clear up allegations they tortured two Myanmar suspects to confess.

Myanmar suspects Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin have been held in the Koh Samui lockup since they were officially charged with the brutal Sept 15 murders of English tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23.

On Monday, Niran Pitakwatchara, head of the commission sub-committee on civil and political rights, said the NHRC would begin debating whether it should file a complaint against forensic police, Police Region 8 and the Metropolitan Police Bureau after the three departments failed to show up for the fourth time.

The NHRC has invited representatives from the three departments handling the case every Monday since Oct 13 to answer allegations they tortured Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin into confessing they killed two British tourists on the island Sept 15.

Both men have since retracted their confessions.

According to Dr Niran, police representatives told them the invitations were sent at very short notice and fear any statements they give could adversely affect the case.

Under the NHRC Act, the NHRC can file a complaint with police to take action against anyone who does not respond to NHRC requests for explanations.

The NHRC is investigating two complaints they received in connection with the Koh Tao murder probe. The first was on behalf of Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin. They received a separate complaint by two other migrant workers on Koh Tao alleging police abuse, Dr Niran said.

Both complaints were filed by civil society groups, but he could not reveal the names of the groups, he said.

It was previously reported that the Lawyers Council of Thailand and Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin's parents had petitioned the NHRC.

National police chief Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang told the Bangkok Post he understands that the NHRC has to perform its duty and try and help the Myanmar suspects.

But, he said, it is not possible for police to discuss any part of their investigation, for fear of violating the Criminal Code, Section 157 for revealing confidential and sensitive information.

But Dr Niran said the NHRC does not wish to expose details of the case, only whether the police engaged in misconduct. "We are investigating the alleged torture and abuse of the suspects," Dr Niran said. "We are not investigating the murder case."

Surapong Kongchantuk from the Lawyers Council of Thailand said the suspects' parents on Monday filed another complaint with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). They asked the department to re-investigate the murder case as well as the allegations of torture.

Mr Surapong said it was the duty of the DSI to give justice to people.

"I hope the DSI will give them a chance in this case," he said.

DSI chief Suwana Suwanjuta said the department will consider whether the Koh Tao case is a "special case". The DSI can only handle cases requiring special investigation.

For our previous coverage which pretty much follows the case from the beginning, look here:













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  • abuse (noun): cruel, violent or unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it - การข่มเหง, การปฏิบัติไม่ดีต่อ
  • Act: a law passed by a country’s government - พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ
  • adversely (adv.): in a bad or negative way - อย่างเป็นผลร้าย อย่างเป็นผลลบ (ใช้กับบัญชี)ที่ติดลบ
  • agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ
  • allegations (noun): accusations - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
  • brutal: extremely violent and unpleasant - โหดร้าย
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated or heard by a court - คดี
  • chair: to be the person in charge of a meeting, committee, or company - ดำรงตำแหน่งประธาน, ทำหน้าที่ในฐานะประธาน
  • charge: to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
  • civil: non-government - พลเรือน
  • civil rights: the basic rights that all people in a society should have, for example the right to be treated fairly by the law, the right to express their ideas, and the right to practise their religion - สิทธิของพลเมือง
  • claim (noun): saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
  • commission: a group of people who have been formally chosen to discover information about a problem or examine the reasons why the problem exists - คณะกรรมการ, คณะกรรมาธิการ
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การร้องเรียน
  • confess (verb): to admit that you have committed a crime - สารภาพผิด
  • confidential: secret, often in a formal, business or military situation - ที่เป็นความลับ
  • consider: to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา
  • council: a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ
  • Criminal Code: the systems of laws dealing with crimes and their punishment - ประมวลกฎหมายอาญา
  • debate: to discuss something, especially by giving different opinions - อภิปราย, ถกเถียง, โต้เถียง
  • Department of Special Investigation: DSI; a police department investigating serious crimes involving influential people, organised crime, or crimes using highly sophisticated technology - กรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ
  • details: small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation - รายละเอียด
  • duty: something that you have to do because it is part of your job, or something that you feel is the right thing to do - หน้าที่, ความรับผิดชอบ
  • engaged in: taking part in a particular activity - มีส่วนร่วมใน
  • expose: to make something publicly known because you believe it is illegal or dishonest - ตีแผ่ เปิดเผย
  • file a complaint: to make an official statement that someone has done something wrong - ยื่นคำร้อง
  • forensic: relating to the use of scientific methods to solve  crimes or to find out why something happened - เกี่ยวกับนิติวิทยาศาสตร์
  • headquarters: the place where an organisation or company has its main offices - กองบัญชาการ
  • human rights: the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think - สิทธิมนุษยชน
  • investigator: someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something - ผู้สอบสวน, ผู้สำรวจ, ผู้ตรวจสอบ
  • invitation: a written or spoken request asking someone to meet you or to do something with you - คำเชิญ
  • invite: to ask somebody formally to go somewhere or do something - เชิญ
  • justice: a fair result or punishment from a court of law - ความยุติธรรม
  • lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย
  • lockup (noun): a small prison where prisoners are kept for a short time - คุก, ตาราง, เรือนจำ
  • metropolitan police: the police in responsible for a city - ตำรวจนครบาล
  • migrant worker: someone who travels to another place or country in order to find work - คนงานต่างถิ่น
  • misconduct: unacceptable or bad behaviour by someone in a position of authority or responsibility - การประพฤติผิด
  • mull: to think carefully about something over a period of time - ครุ่นคิด
  • murder (noun): the crime of intentionally killing a person - ฆาตกรรม, การฆาตกรรม
  • on behalf of: as a representative of - ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
  • petition: to ask someone in authority to do something - ยื่นคำร้อง
  • probe: an attempt to find out the truth about an issue, problem or accident, made by an official group (or by the media); an investigation - การตรวจสอบ  การสอบสวน
  • refuse (verb): to say or show that you will not do something; to say or show that you will not do something that someone has asked you to do - ปฏิเสธ
  • repeatedly: happening, said or done many times - อย่างซ้ำๆ
  • representative: someone who has been chosen or elected by a person or group to vote, give opinions, or make decisions for them - ผู้แทน
  • respond: to say or do something as a reaction to something that has been said or done - ตอบสนอง, ตอบรับ
  • retract: to say that something that you previously said or wrote is not true - ถอนคำพูด
  • reveal: to let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • sensitive: needed to be dealt with very carefully to not cause anger or offence - ที่ละเอียดอ่อน
  • separate: forming a unit by itself; not joined to something else - ซึ่งแยกออกจากกัน
  • short notice (idiom): not long in advance; without warning or time for preparation - บอกล่วงหน้าอย่างฉุกละหุก, แจ้งล่วงหน้าในระยะใกล้
  • show up: to arrive at a place - แสดงตัว, ปรากฏตัว
  • stand up (verb): to deliberately not meet somebody you have arranged to meet - ผิดนัด
  • sub-committee (noun): a smaller committee formed from a main committee in order to study a particular subject in more detail - คณะอนุกรรมการ
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • torture: causing great physical or mental pain to someone intentionally - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
  • torture: to cause great physical or mental pain to someone - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
  • violate: to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement - ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด

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