Judge, Who Shot Himself in a Yala Courtroom Last Year, Commits Suicide

by Admin on March 9, 2020

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A Yala judge recently committed suicide and left behind an emotional letter that spotlights the need for judicial reform in Thailand to ensure the independence of trial courts.

Khanakorn Pianchana, who previously headed the trial court at Yala Provincial Court Thailand’s southern border region, made headlines last October when he attempted suicide in a courtroom by shooting himself in the chest.

Last weekend, Khanakorn successfully took his own life in his Chiang Mai home.

Khanakorn’s first suicide attempt occurred during a high-profile court case in the south of Thailand involving five Muslim men who were allegedly involved in a shooting.

According to Khanakorn, he had allegedly been pressured by Yala’s senior regional judge to find the men accused of the shooting guilty.

After issuing a ruling acquitting the five men, Khanakorn pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the chest.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Thailand’s right’s record in its deep south border regions where martial law is in effect to deal with Islamic separatist groups.

Khanakorn eventually recovered from the gunshot wound but then become the suspect of a criminal case.

Khanakorn stated that he acted only in the interest of “return[ing] justice to the people”.

Both of Khanakorn’s failed and successful suicide attempts ignited a debate on whether Thailand needs to reform its judicial system to ensure the independence of courts and judges from regional judges and other government interference, according to Bangkok criminal defense attorney Jitsopin Narasettapong.

“Khanakorn is not a criminal, he is a judge who tried to uphold justice”, said Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the former secretary-general of the Future Forward Party. “I would like to express my condolences to his family and his loved ones, hoping they will have the strength to bear this time of sadness and this unbearable incident.”

Here is an excerpt from Khanakorn’s suicide letter:

“Being deprived of a job I love means a loss of one’s true self. My body and mind cannot bear the consequences of my action and my life is now filled with misery.

“I do not regret it and I’m proud of being part of administering justice for the Thai people.

“In the past, we had the 1997 Constitution written by the Constitution Drafting Council. People and academics admit it was the most democratic charter the country had ever had. You may wonder why when the charter was in effect, reviewing a ruling at the first-court level is not allowed. Could it be that the drafters knew such a review could pave the way for interfering of a ruling by regional court presidents?

“I want to ask friends, you fellow-Thais: Do you find an evil intention in what I had done, which led to disciplinary and criminal action against me? A reply in your heart is enough. As for me, I knew from the start. It’s a pity you are not my judge.

“I thought I would surely die on October 4 of 2019, but heaven decided to spare me and let me have extra time with my family. I have used it to fix and renovate my house, making sure that my wife and son can live here safely and comfortably.

“I have taught my son to be strong and be good. A good person is one who does good things for himself, others, and the general public under the framework of morality.

“March 6-7 is a suitable date for me to leave this world, since my son’s summer vacation has already started. Before that I tried to meditate to calm my mind but it didn’t work out so well, so I decided to calm it with force.

“Life is just a journey. This body is not our own. In the end everything will turn to dust and we inevitably have to leave our duties and loved ones. The only thing that remains is our good deeds in the memory of others. I wish you all good luck and happiness. Farewell.”

Read the full story in The Nation here.

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