[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


Bangkok Post (16 November 1997)

Twenty-one get freedom following court acquittal
Villagers cleared of spate of crimes


Atotal of 21 Karen villagers walked free yesterday following a recent
court acquittal clearing them of crimes, including murder, armed robbery
and arson.

However, one of the inmates, a 16-year-old died in prison from typhoid as
he was being sent to hospital for treatment. They were cleared of all
charges after five years of detention.

The court, chaired by Anocha Chewitsophon, decided to free all the
suspects on the grounds that the prosecution could not supply evidence to
support the charges against them.

A total of 22 Karen villagers were arrested in November 1992 and charged
with murder, arson and armed robbery in connection with an incident
affecting a forest protection office in Mae Chan.

They were also accused of attacking a Border Patrol Police base in Mae
Chan and killing four police officers in the attack, and setting
government office buildings on fire.

All but one denied the charges levelled against them. One suspect
admitted to killing a villager but denied the rest of the charges.

The accquittal ruling came last month but the villagers were detained
after the prosecution lodged an appeal. They were freed yesterday since
the prosecution failed to submit evidence within the period of limitation

Vinij Lamlue, one of the lawyers, said the villagers deserve compensation
for the five years they spent in jail and lost opportunities.

"They deserve something on a humanitarian ground," he said.