Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Slain Lahu activist’s supporters push for CCTV footage of checkpoint shooting

May 14. 2017
Chaiyapoom Pasae
Chaiyapoom Pasae
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The head of a legal team advocating a transparent investigation of the killing of the 18-year-old Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae will ask public prosecutors to disclose CCTV footage of the March shooting at a military checkpoint in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao district.

The lawyers will submit the request to Chiang Mai prosecutors on Thursday asking for the CCTV footage to be included in the case file. The military had already handed over the footage to police, said Sumitchai Hattasarn, the head of the legal team representing Chaiyapoom’s family yesterday. 

He said the team had learned that police had already submitted the case report to prosecutors earlier this month but it did not include the footage.

Sumitchai said he was confident the CCTV footage would shed light on whether Chaiyapoom had resisted a search and threatened officers with a weapon, as the military has claimed, or cooperated with authorities. The footage could also shed light on a villager’s claim that Chaiyapoom was beaten by soldiers. 

“However, the spot where he was fatally shot wasn’t covered by a CCTV camera and we have circumstantial evidence for the shooting,” he said, admitting that he was worried after senior military officers expressed support for the soldier who shot Chaiyapoom. 

His team was determined to find evidence to fight a court battle on behalf of Chaiyapoom and had already collected a lot of relevant information, he added.

Chaiyapoom and a friend were stopped at the military checkpoint at Ban Rin Luang on March 17 as soldiers searched for illegal drugs. The military claimed Chaiyapoom put up a struggle and presented a serious threat, forcing soldiers to shoot him. 

However, witnesses have said soldiers beat Chaiyapoom and killed him arbitrarily.

On Saturday, Chiang Mai police deputy chief Colonel Mongkol Sampawapol said there were four Chaiyapoom-related cases. Police were investigating his death, the allegation that Chaiyapoom and his friend were in possession of weapons and illicit drugs, the charge that Chaiyapoom resisted the search, and the circumstances of the shooting. 

Mongkol said investigators had submitted the first case report to prosecutors while the file about alleged drug and weapons possession would be submitted in two weeks. The case about Chaiyapoom resisting the search had been dropped because the activist was already dead, he added.

Mongkol also said the military had submitted CCTV footage on a hard drive but police investigators had been “cautious” and not yet viewed the file. 

Police instead sealed the evidence and sent it for a review by the Scientific Crime Detection Division (SCDD). 

“If they submitted a CD copy of the footage, we would have just opened it but it was on a hard disk, so if we opened it and there was no image or any mistake, we would be in trouble so we sent it to the SCDD first,” he added. Sumitchai said the investigators had been careful and the SCDD experts should handle the matter.

He added that an event to mark the 60th day since Chaiyapoom’s death would be held on Wednesday in Chiang Dao to remind people about what the activist sought to accomplish and to press for justice over his |controversial killing.

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