Court fines Deep South rebel’s widow, mother for blocking body’s exhumation

Mariyam Ahmad
Pattani, Thailand
Court fines Deep South rebel’s widow, mother for blocking body’s exhumation Nuraining Deromae (center, wearing a hijab), the widow of Yahree Dueloh, talks to soldiers who asked to exhume his body at the Pahong Guepus cemetery in Su-ngai Padi in Narathiwat province, southern Thailand, Dec. 10, 2022.

A court in Thailand’s Deep South has fined the mother and widow of an alleged rebel and handed them suspended one-month jail terms in connection with the bizarre case of a corpse that was found in a river last year.

The two women were put on trial and convicted last week for having prevented authorities from exhuming the body of their loved one from a local cemetery to identify the remains, according to a military source. The man’s widow had identified her husband by a scar on the leg of the corpse retrieved from the river, but no DNA test was done on it for confirmation.

“[We] have to keep fighting. I am consulting with a lawyer on whether to appeal the case,” Tuanmo Tuandueseh, the mother of Yahree Dueloh (also known as Zahri Bin Abdullah), 42, told BenarNews on Monday.

Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the armed separatist group, had claimed that Yahree was one of its members and that his was the bloated body found floating in the Kolok River – along the Thai-Malaysia border – in September 2022.

BRN also accused Thai officials of kidnapping Yahree from the Malaysian side of the frontier and killing him, allegations which Thai authorities deny. Officials said the corpse did not undergo a proper autopsy and that DNA testing needed to be done.

On Friday, the court in Narathiwat province fined Yahree’s widow, Nuraining Deromae, and his mother 5,000 baht each (U.S. $142), according to the military source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters about the trial. 

The women were convicted on charges of obstructing officials in carrying out the exhumation of the body to prove the person’s identity.

On Oct. 3, four days after the body was pulled out the river, Nuraining pointed to a distinctive scar on its leg to identify her husband.

The family buried the body at the Pahong Guepus cemetery in Su-ngai Padi, a district in Narathiwat province, before a proper DNA test could be performed, officials said.

In December, military, police and forensic experts had to leave the cemetery because Yahree’s survivors barred them from digging up the body for DNA testing.

In response, Lt. Gen. Santi Sakuntanak, the Thai army’s army commander in the south, said the law requires that a dead person must be processed and identified using proper forensic science techniques. In October, he had said that fingerprints taken from the corpse showed it was not Yahree, so he would like to perform an additional DNA test.

“According to the law we have to dig up the corpse and identify to whom it belongs – just in case his relatives might be looking for him,” Santi said at the time. “I don’t know why they rejected our request. If it was not her husband … I don’t know why they want to keep the body.”

Col. Prushaya Baiteh, the police chief in Sungai Kolok, said examiners needed a bone marrow sample to conduct a proper DNA test because tissue from the bloated body was too damaged.


Following the trial, Chalita Buntuwong, a lecturer at Kasetsart University, criticized the military in a post on her Facebook page.

“So proud to show your power, unite the strength from all state sides, including the military, the police, the judicial process to defeat two defenseless village women,” she wrote. “Do anything without thinking about the hearts of the villagers.” 

A military officer who asked to remain anonymous because he said he did not wish to escalate the backlash, supported the ruling.

“Everything is in accordance with the judicial process,” the officer told BenarNews.

Authorities said Yahree had gone into hiding in Malaysia last year because he was wanted on charges related to a series of crimes including arson and carjacking in Narathiwat four or five years earlier.

BRN alleged that Yahree was abducted by a group of Thai security forces from a small town in Rantau Panjang, a subdistrict in the Malaysian state of Kelantan near the Thai border. The Thai military denied having a role in the abduction while police have largely kept quiet about the investigation. 


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