File Photo A team of officials is in the process of gathering evidence to determine why four men died during security officials
By Chularat Saengpassa
ALTHOUGH A court has yet to deliver its verdict against security officials who shot dead four innocent men in the deep South, a local activist says she sees justice finally coming.
“At the very least, the court has confirmed that the victims died at the hands of state officials,” Anchana Heemmina of the Hearty Support Group said yesterday. “From here, we can fight through criminal and civil proceedings.”
On September 14, the Pattani Provincial Court concluded its trial on how four men aged between 24 and 32 died during a state operation in Pattani’s Thung Yang Daeng district on March 25 last year.
Initially, it was reported that the men were armed and died during a clash with security officials in the unrest-plagued southernmost region.
Fatoni University, however, quickly released a statement clarifying that two of the victims were its students and they had never engaged in any insurgent activities.
In response, the then-Pattani governor ordered an investigation, which concluded on April 7 last year that there was no evidence suggesting that the victims had a hand in the unrest or that they were armed during their encounter with security officials.
The Pattani Provincial Court is among the agencies tasked with finding out what caused the victims’ deaths.
“We are extending support and assistance to the families of the victims,” Anchana said. “We are trying to help them fight for justice.”
She said her group had been in touch with the affected families from the outset and had put them in contact with lawyers as well as let them know of the options open to them.
“It’s necessary that they prove their sons’ innocence. Or else, others may be misled into believing that their sons had taken up arms against the state,” Anchana said.
She lamented that some of the victims were the only sons, and one of them had been pursuing his dream to become a deputy district chief. “We have to fight to ensure that such tragedies never occur again,” she said.
The Muslim Attorney Centre is now planning to ask the Administrative Court to help affected families seek extra compensation from the authorities.
The centre’s chairman Abdulkoha Arwarputeh said the victims’ families deserve to receive more than the Bt500,000 compensation the government provides per death caused by the unrest in the deep South.
He said his centre would talk to the victims’ families on October 3 to plan further legal proceedings.
“Apart from civil action, we will also discuss filing criminal proceedings,” Abdulkoha said.
He said if the police did not pursue criminal complaints against the officials involved, he would help their families lodge a complaint directly to the court.