Somchai Neelapaijit case closed, says DSI

Somchai Neelapaijit case closed, says DSI

Angkhana Neelapaijit attends an event to mark the 12th anniversary of the disappearance of her husband, in March this year. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Angkhana Neelapaijit attends an event to mark the 12th anniversary of the disappearance of her husband, in March this year. (Bangkok Post file photo)

After 11 years and three months of investigation into the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, the Department of Special Investigation has declared the case closed, saying no culprits have been found.

In a letter to his wife Angkhana Neelapaijit, the DSI announced the investigation had been called off.

Mrs Angkhana posted a copy of the DSI's letter on her Facebook page.

"In the case in which Somchai was thought to have been abducted by some police officers, the DSI concluded after 11 years and three months of investigation that the investigation must be closed because no culprits have been found.

"With a large amount of evidence about Somchai's disappearance available for the authorities to catch the culprits, the DSI is still unable to do anything," Mrs Angkhana wrote. "How can the DSI ever hope to resolve other cases of abduction and torture that involve state officials?"

Somchai, who was born on May 13, 1951, was a former chairman of the Muslim Lawyers Group and a human rights activist. He disappeared on March 12, 2004.

Before his disappearance, Somchai had often accepted requests to handle human rights cases which were rejected by other lawyers. They included cases in which villagers were accused of violating human rights, Myanmar political refugees, and an Iranian arrested for allegedly placing a bomb at the Israeli embassy in Bangkok.

On Feb 27, 2004, Somchai and various Muslim organisations in Thailand proposed ways of solving the insurgency problems in the far South to the government.

At the same time, they called for justice in the investigation of five suspects accused of being Mujaheedin terrorists. In this case, Somchai said he had met the five suspects, who told him they had done nothing wrong but had to confess after being tortured by police.

On Jan 13, 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra, the then-prime minister, announced the DSI had found important evidence which indicated Somchai had died and that at least four police officers had been involved. He said the case would be resolved no later than February that year, but that never materialised.

Since her husband's disappearance, Mrs Angkhana has become a human rights activist, calling for justice for people in society. She is currently a member of the National Human Rights Commission.


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