The suicide bid by a judge who shot himself in a Yala courtroom after handing down a ruling on Friday has sparked concerns over possible interference in the case.
Khanakorn: Expected to recover
Khanakorn Pianchana, a senior judge at the Yala provincial court, pulled out a pistol and shot himself at the end of a hearing on Friday afternoon, officials said. He was rushed to hospital where he underwent surgery for injuries said not to be life-threatening. The incident reportedly took place in a third-floor courtroom.
About 3.30pm, Suriyan Hongvilai, spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, said Mr Khanakorn had apparently acted out of stress from personal issues.
He said the Office of the Judiciary would launch a fact-finding probe into the incident.
A 25-page statement Mr Khanakorn purportedly posted on Facebook on Friday before he shot himself was circulating on social media on Friday. The document was not visible on Facebook at press time last night.
The document states the case he was hearing concerned national security and was related to secret association, conspiracy and gun-law offences.
The document allegedly described disagreements among senior judges over the case ruling, in which Mr Khanakorn reportedly decided to acquit all five defendants.
Messages reading "Return the ruling to the judges" and "Return justice to the people" were repeated three times in the document. The Court of Justice has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the circulated document.
Future Forward Party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul declared he did not believe the suicide attempt stemmed from stress.
He said Mr Khanakorn had been sending him information since early September, asking him to help make it the public.
A judicial source told the Bangkok Post that the Courts of Justice statute authorises a regional chief judge to advise the chief of a judges panel on how to approach a case involving a serious offence.
However, the judging panel chief has the right to ignore the advice if he is confident in the evidence, the source said, adding that the chief of the judging panel has the right to return the case and ask the regional chief judge to set up a new panel of judges in order to re-examine evidence.
But if the new judging panel is of the same opinion as the previous one, the new panel must deliver a ruling accordingly, the source said.