Army absolved over checkpoint shooting

Army absolved over checkpoint shooting

The Civil Court yesterday ruled in favour of the army in a civil case brought against it by the family of a Lahu hill tribe teenager gunned down by a soldier during a 2017 drug crackdown in Chiang Mai.

Assisted by tribal and human rights activists, Poi Pasae, the mother of Chaiyaphum Pasae, who was 17 years old when he was killed in 2017, had filed the civil lawsuit seeking damages.

It argued that the soldier who shot her son dead had violated his rights.

The court judge, however, was not persuaded by this argument, said the ruling, and rejected the case.

Instead, the judge was convinced by statements given by defence witnesses, who testified that Chaiyaphum had resisted a request by officers at a security checkpoint to search his car, said the ruling.

When 2,800 methamphetamine tablets were found hidden in an air filter slot inside the vehicle, Chaiyaphum fled on foot and threw a grenade back towards the checkpoint, which prompted a soldier to fire an M16 rifle at his left arm in an attempt to prevent his escape, said the ruling.

Also, according to the ruling, defence witnesses showed that bank transactions proved a connection between Chaiyaphum and the drug gang, as well a mobile phone call log showing that calls had been exchanged with a suspect in a drug case, said the ruling.

One of the defence witnesses, a classmate of Chaiyaphum's, also testified that he believed the teenager was involved with drugs.

Given all the testimony, the judge had been convinced the soldier's extrajudicial killing of Chaiyaphum was done in self-defence and did not breach his rights.

The plaintiff and relatives and friends of Chaiyaphum who were upset by yesterday's ruling said they intended to appeal against the verdict.

Plaintiff witnesses had testified that Chaiyaphum was a good student, friend and son and could not have been involved with drugs as accused.

Prida Nakhaphiew, a lawyer from the Cross Cultural Foundation, said the civil lawsuit was launched mainly to uncover the truth behind what the family believes was the extrajudicial killing of their son.

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