Gun judge faces flak

Gun judge faces flak

Probe mulled over breach of court rules

The Yala provincial court, the venue of the shooting (photo by Abdullah Benjakaj)
The Yala provincial court, the venue of the shooting (photo by Abdullah Benjakaj)

A report into the self-shooting by Judge Khanakorn Pianchana will be submitted on Monday to the Judicial Commission for consideration, according to Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Office of the Court of Justice.

Asked if Mr Khanakorn will be investigated for disciplinary offences, Mr Sarawut said the office is gathering information about the incident for the commission to consider.

Mr Khanakorn shot himself on Friday afternoon after he gave a ruling and addressed a court in a speech that he reportedly broadcast live on Facebook.

Before the hearing, the judge posted a 25-page statement on his Facebook page, which later disappeared.

Photography, videotaping and broadcasting are restricted and weapons are barred from being carried by unauthorised personnel into the courtroom.

The shooting was believed to be related to alleged interference in the case in which the judge acquitted the five defendants who were charged with the shooting of five people in Yala's Bannang Sata district in June last year.

Mr Khanakorn was on Sunday moved out of the intensive care unit to an in-patient ward at Yala Hospital.

Banyong Laocharoensuk, director at the hospital, said the judge sustained injuries to his spleen and was given medication to stop the bleeding. So far the patient has not required any surgery, he said.

Mr Sarawut, who visited Mr Khanakorn at the hospital on Sunday, said he has not raised the incident with Mr Khanakorn as his visit was only to extend moral support.

Asked about the alleged interference in the case, he insisted the independence of judges is guaranteed and their work is governed by the law.

He said the investigation would look at the facts and the motivation for Mr Khanakorn's actions.

He pointed out that almost half the security-related cases in the deep South are dismissed in court and insisted that cases are reviewed thoroughly.

"I stress here that the judiciary is impartial and independent," he said.

After the visit, Mr Sarawut also met Aniruj Jaithiang, the Yala court chief judge, and Pusita Lalee, chief of the Yala youth and family court, to convey a message of moral support from Supreme Court president Salaiket Watanaphan to all judicial officials serving in the southern border provinces.

Future Forward Party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said on Sunday that Mr Khanakorn had contacted him online in September to discuss the independence of judges and the prevention of interference but they never met in person.

Mr Piyabutr said he had heard similar concerns and frustrations from other judges and noted it was high time current procedures were reviewed.

The FFP MP was referring to the statute of the Courts of Justice which authorises a regional chief judge to advise the chief of a panel of judges on how to approach a case involving a serious offence.

"From what happened, it's time to figure out how to prevent any interference and simultaneously keep within the ruling guidelines," he said.

Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka said on Sunday he would ask the House committee on laws, justice and human rights to consider an inquiry into the incident.

Mr Sira, who is the panel's vice chairman, said any inquiry would not be intended to interfere in the judiciary's affairs but to determine the cause of the incident.

He said the committee will focus on the laws to determine if there are elements that might contribute to intervention.

According to Mr Sira, if the problem is caused by the process, it should be overhauled, but if it is caused by individuals, they should face le­gal action.

Dr Banyong said the judge had been advised to take at least one week rest to make sure there are no complications.

Mental health specialists are expected to meet the judge later this week.


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