Thailand: 9 Deep South Muslim Men Sentenced for Bomb Plot

Nontarat Phaicharoen
180925-TH-court-620.jpg Hanela Duerama (wearing a red hijab) cries after her son received a four-year jail sentence following his conviction on bomb-plot charges, Sept. 25, 2018.
Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews

A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced nine Muslim men from the Deep South to four to six years in jail after convicting them of conspiring two years ago to launch bomb attacks in Bangkok and a nearby province, while five others walked free.

A defense attorney challenged the decision, saying his clients were tortured to confess and will appeal within 30 days.

Mubarina Kana was the only defendant to be found with traces of explosives, according to the two-judge panel. He was handed a six-year jail term.

“Based on forensic probe, the trace of PETN, an explosive material that is not common, was found on his left and right hand,” one of the judges said during the sentencing, referring to Mubarina. “It is believed that he had bombs.”

The judge, who was not identified by the court, said eight other defendants conspired to form a crime syndicate and were each sentenced to four years in jail. Five others were found not guilty.

On Oct. 10, 2016, Thai security forces raided several residences in Bangkok and Samut Prakan, a province south of the capital, arresting dozens of Muslim men from the Deep South, mostly students at Ramkhamhaeng University, over allegations they planned car-bomb attacks.

Torture testimony

Defense lawyer Kijja Ali-isho who represented the 14 defendants said his clients testified they were tortured to confess while in military prisons in Bangkok and in Pattani.

“They were hit in the ears, kept in cold temperature, anything that would not cause external bruises,” he told BenarNews after the verdict.

The court doubted their testimony.

“The defendants’ claims of being threatened and tortured to confess is not substantiated because there were no signs on their bodies,” the judge said.

The mother of Uzman Kadirhaji was in court to hear her son’s sentence.

“I felt disheartened simply because we are Deep South people and they don’t believe us about the torture,” said Hanela Duerama, who traveled from Narathiwat province to the nation’s capital, Bangkok, for the verdict.

“We told the truth, but they don’t believe,” Hanela told BenarNews. “I believe my son is not a perpetrator.”

Pornpen Khongkachonkiat, director of Bangkok-based rights group Cross Cultural Foundation, described the verdict as a setback for justice.

Thai law allows swift arrest and detention of suspect without charge for up to seven days, during which authorities can question suspects who do not have legal counsel, according to Pornpen and legal experts.

“And when people sued officials … many have won compensation, but none of the officials were punished criminally,” Pornpen said. “Many stopped short there without further criminal prosecution, being satisfied with the money.”


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