Government denies responsibility for suspected insurgent's death

Government denies responsibility for suspected insurgent's death

Prawit backs official postmortem report as outcry grows

A large crowd of Muslims attends the funeral of insurgent suspect Abdulloh Esomusor at Miftahul Jannah mosque in Sai Buri district, Pattani, on Monday. (Photo by Abdullah Benjakat)
A large crowd of Muslims attends the funeral of insurgent suspect Abdulloh Esomusor at Miftahul Jannah mosque in Sai Buri district, Pattani, on Monday. (Photo by Abdullah Benjakat)

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has denied the government or the authorities had anything to do with the death of insurgent suspect Abdulloh Esomusor, as relatives and rights activists urged an investigation.

"There has been no progress in the inquiry so far and we want transparency about what happened," the dead man's cousin, Mohammatrahamat Mamu, told Reuters.

Abdulloh died under suspicious circumstances in hospital early on Sunday morning.

The case has been adequately handled by the police and the hospitals involved in the suspect's treatment, Gen Prawit said. 

He also dismissed claims that Songklanagarind Hospital, where the suspect had been treated for more than a month, issued inconsistent information about Abdulloh's death.

"How could the information not have added up? The hospital said [the suspect] died of an infection," he said. 

The deputy premier said the Fourth Army Region will contact Abdulloh's family and allay fears that the suspect had been badly treated by the military. 

The Thai military have rejected allegations of torture and urged the public to wait for the result of the official inquiry.

"We conduct ourselves on the basis that we are all Thai people and we are not out to kill each other," Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the internal security operations command in southern Thailand, told Reuters.

Opposition parties have said they plan to ask the government to clarify the facts regarding Abdulloh's cause of death in parliament this week.

The case raised serious issues about rights violations in military detention, an official of New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

"The death of Abdulloh Esormusor is an important test case for the Thai government on whether it is willing and able to address serious rights violations in military detention," its senior Thai researcher, Sunai Phasuk, told Reuters. 

Songklanagarind Hospital has been accused of issuing a statement on Abdulloh's death which might hinder an investigation regarding the circumstances surrounding it. 

Chalita Banthuwong, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Kasetsart University, said on Monday the statement released by the Songkhla-based hospital could exonerate the military and the government and pre-empt any further investigation to get to the truth.

She said there were inconsistencies in the hospital's statement and the letter confirming Abdulloh's death that was sent to the suspect's family hours after he died on Sunday.

According to the hospital where Abdulloh was admitted for treatment on July 22, the suspect died at 4.03am on Sunday as a result of acute pneumonia and septic shock.

The hospital said Abdulloh's condition had been stable until Friday night when doctors diagnosed inflammation of the lungs and abnormal gas build-up for which he was given antibiotics and high-concentration oxygen.

His condition deteriorated on Saturday night after the onset of dangerously low blood pressure and he did not respond to treatment, according to the hospital.

The case has prompted allegations of human rights abuses by security authorities and a lack of transparency in the criminal investigation process against insurgent suspects in the South.

Abdulloh was arrested at his home after being implicated in insurgent activities in Sai Buri district in Pattani by a leading insurgent named Ibroheng Maseng. He was then taken to the Ingkayutthaboriharn military camp for questioning, where he was found unconscious several hours later.

It is not known why he fell unconscious.

Abdulloh was rushed to the camp hospital, which provided first aid before he was referred to Pattani General Hospital and then Songklanagarind Hospital in Songkhla's Hat Yai on July 22.

According to doctors, he was suffering from brain swelling, which could have been caused by a lack of oxygen, among other things. 

On Monday, Ms Chalita said the hospital's statement attributed the cause of Adulloh's death to acute pneumonia and septic shock, which was similar to the announcement by Pramote Prom-in, spokesman of Isoc’s Region 4 Forward Command, on Sunday. 

However, the statement did not mention hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) which the hospital allegedly specified had led to Abdulloh's death in the notification letter sent to the family. HIE is a type of brain dysfunction that occurs when the brain doesn't receive enough oxygen or blood flow for a period of time. 

The professor said the hospital should have provided detailed information about what happened to prevent confusion.  

Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former national human rights commissioner, said Abdulloh had no history of chronic illnesses.

While there is no evidence at this stage that the authorities were responsible for his death, it cannot be explained why Abdulloh suffered from a lack of oxygen either.

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