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Judiciary Investigates Why Judge Shot Himself in Southern Thailand

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Judge Khanakorn Pianchana produced a pistol and shot himself after handing down a ruling in a case at a courtroom on Friday afternoon.  He was rushed to Yala Hospital where he underwent surgery for injuries.

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A senior judge who shot himself with a pistol has been taken out of an intensive care unit. The Judge is now being treated at an in-patient ward at Yala Hospital.

Judge Khanakorn Pianchana produced a pistol and shot himself after handing down a ruling in a case at a courtroom on Friday afternoon.  He was rushed to Yala Hospital where he underwent surgery for injuries.

Judiciary spokesman Suriyan Hongwilai said Mr Khanakorn had been moved out of the ICU to a ward for further treatment.

On Sunday morning, Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Office of the Judiciary, visited Mr Khanakorn at the hospital.

After the visit, Mr Sarawut conveyed a message from the Supreme Court to all judicial officials in southern border provinces to give them moral support.

25-page statement on Facebook

Before shooting himself, Mr Khanakkorn posted a 25-page statement on Facebook on Friday. The statement included messages reading “Return the ruling to the judges” and “Return justice to the people”, sparking a controversy over the country’s judicial system.

The Court of Justice has insisted there are mechanisms to ensure the independence of a ruling judge.

A report into the self-shooting by Judge Khanakorn Pianchana will be submitted on Monday to the Judicial Commission for consideration.

Asked if Mr Khanakorn will be investigated for disciplinary offenses, Mr Sarawut said. The Office of the Judiciary is gathering information about the incident.

Banyong Laocharoensuk, director at the hospital, said the judge sustained injuries to his spleen and was given medication to stop the bleeding. So far the patient has not required any surgery, he said.

When Mr Sarawut, was questioned about alleged interference in the case, he insisted the independence of judges is guaranteed and their work is governed by the law.

Sarawut said the investigation would look at the facts and the motivation for Mr Khanakorn’s actions.

Pointing out that almost half the security-related cases in the deep South are dismissed. He insisted that cases are reviewed thoroughly.

“I stress here that the judiciary is impartial and independent”

Future Forward Party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said on Sunday that Mr Khanakorn had contacted him online in September to discuss the independence of judges and the prevention of interference but they never met in person.

Mr Piyabutr told the Bangkok Post he had heard similar concerns and frustrations from other judges. He said it was high time current procedures were reviewed.

“From what happened, it’s time to figure out how to prevent any interference and keep within the ruling guidelines,” he said.

Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka said on Sunday he would ask the House committee on laws, justice and human rights to consider an inquiry into the incident.

Mr Sira, who is the panel’s vice chairman, said any inquiry would not be intended to interfere in the judiciary’s affairs but to determine the cause of the incident.

He said the committee will focus on the laws to determine if there are elements that might contribute to intervention.

According to Mr Sira, if the problem is caused by the process, it should be overhauled. But if it is caused by individuals, they should face le­gal action.