TAHR Statement on the 9 Suspects Held in Relation to Weapons that Exiled Broadcaster Ko Tee Says Were Planted at His House

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights is very concerned about nine suspects captured and in military custody in relation to the weapons stash allegedly found at the former home of Redshirt exile Wutthipong Kochathammakun, or Ko Tee. The suspects who were raided and detained include Theerachai Utarawichian, Prathuang On-lamun, Palida Ruangsuwan, Wanchaichana Krutchaiyan, Aem-on Watkaew, Thossapol Ketkosol, Udomchai Nopsawas, Thanachot Wongjanchompoo, and Suriyasak Chatpitakkul. We want the judicial and other basic human rights of these prisoners to be respected and are watching to see that nothing accidental happens to any of them.

Ko Tee, who lives in exile outside Thailand, is a famous Thai activist who calls for establishment of the Thai federal state. He says, by an interview on a YouTube show by Jom Petchpradab, that the weapons were planted. It does seem odd that weapons were found almost three years after Khun Wutthipong (Ko Tee) had left the country. And other aspects of scenario seem suspicious, as Mr. Kochathammakun himself points out in the aforementioned interview.

Obviously, the Thai government has been trying to extradite Ko Tee from his country of exile for “lese majesty” (insulting the Thai King by calling for a federal state), which is not a crime outside of Thailand. The government has a motive to frame the nine suspects in Thailand in order to stop the broadcasts of Ko Tee (and to frame Ko Tee for a crime that really is a crime outside of Thailand in order to extradite him).

In this situation, it is feared that brutal army tactics are being used to torture these captured civilians. Thus, it is urgent and imperative that the nine suspects above be moved to civilian custody and be tried in a civilian court. Otherwise, they will never get a fair trial and their lives may be at risk. It is also important that their lawyers and family members be able to contact them while detained and they not be held at a secret military facility.

In almost the past three years since the coup, there have been several suspicious deaths of high-profile prisoners in military custody, and these deaths happened soon after the arrest.

We also recall the case of Ithipon Sukpand, a Thai pro-democracy activist and exiled broadcaster who last summer was abducted from Laos by a group of Thai men in camouflage, leaving behind only a motorcycle and one shoe. He has never been seen or heard from again. Incidents like this emphasize the need for impartiality, transparency, and respect for the human rights of suspects as this case proceeds.

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