ฺBangkokPost: Somchai’s daughter fights for answers

Tomorrow will mark seven years since the disappearance of Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit but his 28-year-old daughter Prathubjit says time will not diminish her attempts to fight for justice for her beloved father.

Ms Prathubjit, who has been seen publicly helping her mother Angkhana over the years in a quest for justice for her missing father, says she will never abandon their cause.

She was speaking yesterday in a phone interview with the Bangkok Post before the Appeal Court today reads its verdict against Pol Maj Ngern Thongsuk, who was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Criminal Court in 2006 on charges of abducting her father.

The court at the same time acquitted four other police officers because of a lack of witnesses. The four officers were Pol Lt Col Sinchai Nimpunyakampong, Pol Sgt Maj Chaiweng Phaduang, Pol Cpl Rundorn Sitthikhet and Pol Lt Col Chadchai Liamsa-nguan.

Two years later Pol Maj Ngern’s relatives told the Appeal Court that Pol Maj Ngern was swept away by a mudslide in the Kwai Noi River in Phitsanulok. His body has still not been located.

But Ms Prathubjit dismissed the claim as she said she was certain that Pol Maj Ngern was not dead. Instead, she thought he was hiding in Cambodia according to information obtained from officers of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) who were asked by Mrs Angkhana to help investigate the case.

Ms Prathubjit said her family was very worried about the Appeal Court’s verdict today. She said if the court ruled in favour of the claim by Pol Maj Ngern’s relatives that the suspect had vanished, there might be no more progress in the investigation into her father’s disappearance.

She said she and her mother would ask the court to read the verdict in the absence of the defendant immediately.

“But no matter what the ruling is I will try to seek more legal channels. I won’t give up fighting for justice. I will take the case to the Supreme Court as I want to see the whole truth about my father’s case,” she said.

“And if finally the [Supreme] court rules that authorities are partly to blame for the enforced disappearance of my dad, this ruling will become a standard case for others who have lost their loved ones from enforced disappearances,” said Ms Prathubjit, who is now taking a doctoral programme in political science at Chulalongkorn University.

Ms Prathubjit said Thailand had no particular law to take action against those found guilty of enforced disappearances which today is considered a crime against humanity by the United Nations.

She said in the end she wanted her father’s disappearance to be a lesson for Thai society as she was certain other families have faced the same situation.

“So we need a law to help criminalise those people involved in any act of enforced disappearance,” she said.

The Justice for Peace Foundation, formerly known as the Working Group for Justice and Peace, chaired by her mother Angkhana, this week reported to a human rights session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland that there were currently 54 enforced disappearance cases in Thailand and one of them was Mr Somchai’s. None of the perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice.

Mrs Angkhana, who returned from the UNHRC session yesterday, said she was ready to continue the fight for justice.

From: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/226050/somchai-daughter-fights-for-answers