A southern Thailand army commander has promised a fair investigation after 3 unarmed men were allegedly shot dead by security forces. The slain men were suspected insurgents Lt. Gen. Pornsak Poolsawat said.
Shortly after the killings on Monday, Lt. Gen. Pornsak Poolsawat, who oversees forces in southern Thailand said the slain men were suspected insurgents who had clashed with security forces.
However after hearing from relatives and conducting an initial investigation, Gen. Pornsak reversed his initial conclusion. He spoke to reporters on Tuesday to set the record straight.
“When officers arrived at the scene and encountered four to five unknown men. They identified themselves and asked to search the men,” Pornsak told Benar news in Narathiwat. He referring to the task force made up of soldiers, police and officials from local agencies.
“But those men ran away and three or four gunshots were heard, so the officers returned fire. Three men were killed while one or two managed to escape,” he said.
He also said the men were not armed – reversing an earlier statement that the men had guns.
Pornsak promised justice for the unarmed loggers in Southern Thailand. Saying he had ordered the 45th Ranger Task Force, to conduct an investigation into the shootings.
“When there is an initial finding that the dead men are villagers and not insurgents, and despite officers’ efforts to be careful, they cannot deny responsibility because of the deadly mistake,” Pornsak said.
“They will face investigation and punishment, disciplinarian and criminally, without exception. If they consequently intended to do wrong deeds.
Meanwhile, a human rights protection committee has promised the families of the victims that they would get justice. “The three were found dead next to timber without weapons” Pornpilai Bovornnaringdesh told reporters in southern Thailand.
“Please, all villagers, trust officials who are performing the investigation.”
In Bangkok on Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha announced that a 2005 Emergency Decree would also remain in effect. The decree gives security forces in Southern Thailand almost blanket immunity for their actions.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in violence across the mainly Muslim Deep South. Which consists of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces and four districts of Songkhla province. Since the separatist insurgency reignited in southern Thailand in 2004.