The ICJ found serious irregularities in the overall criminal investigation and the case presented by the prosecution, which denied the victim’s family the effective remedy to which they are entitled under international law.
Five years since prominent Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit was allegedly abducted and killed by five police officers in central Bangkok, on 12 March 2004, his fate remains unknown and no one has been held accountable in final judgment for the crime of his enforced disappearance. The case has received widespread national and international media coverage and is seen as emblematic of the difficulty of achieving justice in cases of serious human rights violations in Thailand.
- Failure of the prosecution to charge the defendants with offences reflecting the seriousness of the crime.
- Serious questions over the independence and impartiality of the original investigation.
- Credible reports that evidence was destroyed and that state officials, in particular the police, continue to obstruct the investigation process.
- The failure of investigators to use court sanctioned powers – such as search, seizure and arrest – to overcome attempts to obstruct the case by the police and other agencies.
- Consistent reports of threats, intimidation and harassment of the family of Mr Neelapaichit and key witnesses, before, during and after the trial.
- Substantial gaps in the physical forensic evidence submitted to the court, including: failure to preserve the integrity of the victim’s car before it had been subject to a full and independent forensic examination, and failure to examine some hair samples found in the victim’s car against samples from three of the defendants.
- Failure to properly investigate, and prepare adequate expert evidence regarding, the mobile phone records of the five defendants, including submission of photocopies with certain records blanked-out and failure to investigate and explain a call to Government House by one of the suspects on the day of the disappearance.
- Lack of disciplinary action against the five accused police officers while under investigation, and the upholding of this decision by the Administrative Court.
- Failure of the appeals process to achieve progress three years after the initial verdict.
- Failure to monitor the whereabouts of Pol. Maj. Ngern Thongsukand, the only convicted police officer, pending the verdict of the appeal court.