Slain teen activist’s family demands to see ‘missing’ tapes
By Pratch Rujivanarom
The family of a teenage ethnic Lahu activist killed at a Chiang Mai military checkpoint last year wants to know what happened to CCTV camera recordings from the scene, the existence of which the Army has officially denied.
Lawyer Ratsada Manuratsada, representing the family of Chaiyaphum Pasae, said yesterday their legal fight continues in an effort to establish justice in his controversial killing at the hands of military personnel.
Surveillance camera recordings from the scene would be critical evidence, but they have not been presented in court or shown to the public, Ratsada said.
“We are going to ask for a formal investigation into the Army and investigating officers over the absence of such important evidence,” he said. “The Army kept these recordings and failed to present them as evidence to the public.
“We have to find those responsible for the disappearance of the footage because concealing or destroying evidence is a crime.”
Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled on June 6 that a soldier shot Chaiyaphum dead on March 17, 2017, after his car was stopped at a military checkpoint in Ban Rin Luang, Chiang Dao district, so it could be inspected for narcotics.
Widespread doubt lingers over the circumstances of what appeared to be the extrajudicial killing of a 17-year-old student, with witnesses on both sides giving conflicting testimony in court.
The CCTV recordings might offer unbiased evidence as to what actually occurred.
The family presented a petition on Monday to the Army commander-in-chief requesting copies of the recordings.
Maj Gen Panatat Kanjanawasit, head of the Office of the Army Secretary, denied the request in a letter, saying there were no CCTV recordings of the moment of Chaiyaphum’s shooting due to an error in the recording system.
The cameras’ hard drive, which the Army turned over to police investigators, was found to be empty.
Ratsada expressed doubt about the statement, noting that senior military officers, including the commander of the Third Army Area, told reporters they had seen the CCTV recordings.
Chaiyaphum’s family is meanwhile taking the Army to Civil Court for compensation for the loss of their son due to a soldier’s misconduct.
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