Officers in shooting 'mistake' to surrender

Officers in shooting 'mistake' to surrender

The bodies of the three men shot dead
The bodies of the three men shot dead "by mistake" by soldiers on Tawae mountain in Narathiwat on Monday lie in rest at their local mosque in Ra-ngag district on Tuesday. (Photo by Abdullah Benjakat)

Fourth Army Region commander Pornsak Poonsawat said that security officers who shot dead three civilians “by mistake” have been ordered to turn themselves in on Thursday.

Lt Gen Pornsak, who also directs Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Region 4, said the officers — whose number is unknown — were due to surrender to local police on Thursday so an investigation into the shootings can begin.

Haphisee Mada-o, 24; Budeeman Malee, 26 and Manasee Sama-ae, 27, all from Ra-ngae district, were shot by security officers attached to the 45th paramilitary light infantry force on Tawae mountain on Monday.

“Police will seize evidence from the men, which includes their firearms,” said Lt Gen Pornsak.

The commander said that the shooting may have been caused by many reasons — one of which is the officers’ defiance of orders to not venture into the insurgents’ hideout without prior authorisation from their superiors, an act which prompted the armed clash at border of Ra-ngae and Cho Airong districts.

“The army chief has repeatedly emphasised that entry to danger zones, such as insurgents’ hideouts — which are clearly marked on security maps — must only be done with prior authorisation,” he said.

According to Lt Gen Pornsak, the locations of these “no-go” zones have to be better communicated to both officers and local residents.

“Apart from Tawae mountain, Khao Nang Chan in Yala and Khao Khao Moh Tae in Narathiwat are also considered off-limits,” he said.

If the officers were found to be in the wrong, they will face legal consequences, while the victims’ relatives will be compensated, said the commander.

“We will not take sides,” said Lt Gen Pornsak, who said that a human rights committee comprised of respected figures from the victims’ community has been formed to help resolve the matter.

On Thursday, Sayan Sukchan, chairman of the Pithak Tham justice advocacy centre, said special investigation procedures are needed to deal with incidents of abuse perpetrated by authorities.

“Civic groups must take part in such investigations and special prosecutors should be appointed to handle the cases,” he said. “The indictment decisions should also be made within 30 days of receiving the cases from the police to avoid a delay.”

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