Incident 40 NAME: Mr Somchai Neelapaijit DATE OF INCIDENT: 12 March 2004 APPROX. LOCATION OF INCIDENT: Ramkamheang Road, near Hua Mark police station, Bangkok ADDRESS OF VICTIM : 73/5 Soi Issaraphap 11, Issaraphap Road, Thonburi, Bangkok 10600 AGE OF VICTIM: 55 ETHNICITY: Thai Muslim SUMMARY OF TESTIMONY: Somchai was a prominent human rights lawyer known for his work on politically controversial cases, including representing individuals accused of terrorism-related offences. He was the chairman of the Muslim Lawyer Club and Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Lawyers Council of Thailand. In the lead up to his disappearance, Somchai had played a key role in collecting names for a petition of 50,000 signatures to request that martial law be lifted in the south following its imposition in response to the 4 January 2004 gun robbery. Somchai was also asked to represent some of the men accused of involvement in the robbery. The men had been tortured to extract confessions. Somchai made public information about the torture and the perpetrators in a powerful speech on 27 February 2004. He submitted a court petition to have the five men released, which was rejected. The day before his disappearance, 11 March 2004, his law office submitted a petition alleging abuse, to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Royal Thai Police, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Human Rights Commission, the Prime Minister and the Office of the Senate. On 12 March 2004, Somchai was waiting to meet a colleague Kitcha Ali-Ishak lobby of Chaleena Hotel, Ramkamhaeng Road but he did not arrive for the meeting, so at 8.15 p.m. Somchai left in his car. At around 8.30 p.m. witnesses saw another car force Somchai to stop his car. Four or five men from the other car forced Somchai into their car and drove off. He has not been seen since. While several senior government officials, including a former Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the DSI investigators, have publicly stated that they have evidence Somchai is dead, his body has never been located nor his murderers brought to justice.30 OFFICIAL ACTION: The Magistrates Court found one of the five accused policemen guilty of coercion. The family appealed as did the policeman who was found guilty. 11 March 2011, the Appeal Court ruled that Somchai's wife, Angkana, and his daughters and son, could not be considered as joint plaintiffs because legally they could not act on behalf the "injured person or dead person" in the case of the disappeared victim of Somchai to institute a criminal prosecution based on the conditions provided by sections 5 and 28 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
This summarizes information in the report of the International Commission of Jurists, ‚Somchai Neelapaichit – Report on Trial & Investigation‛, March 2009. See the report for further details. 30
Enforced Disappearances in Thailand