The Supreme Court’s first conviction of militants in the deep South
The Supreme Court has upheld the life imprisonment sentence imposed earlier by the Appeals Court on five Islamic militants found guilty of involvement in the brutal killing of a Buddhist monk and two lay assistants at Wat Phromprasit in Pattani back in 2005.
This is the first conviction by the Supreme Court for security-related case which took place in the restive deep South for almost nine years since the start of renewed insurgency by Islamic militant gangs.
The five convicts are Adnan Wateh, Abdulloh Samoh, Masorae Jesanee, Muhamad Duerae and Dee Baewa.
The case dated back to the night of October 16, 2005 when a group of militants raided Wat Phromprasit in Ban Koh, Panarae district of Pattani. The raiders brutally beat up 78-year old Phra Kaew Kosaro, a senior monk in the temple, with wooden sticks and then hacked him to death with a cleaver. Two temple assistants, 17-year old Harnnarong Kam-ong and 15-year old Sathaporn Suwanrat, were also shot and hacked to death. The assailants later carried the three victims to a living quarter and set it alight.
After the brutal incident, security forces and police detained 16 suspects who were sent to the forward command of the National Police Office in Yala for interrogation. Eventually, five were released and the remaining 11 others were charged with involvement in the murders of the Buddhist monk and his two lay assistants.
In this court case, the prosecution had two eyewitnesses who were at the temple which the raid took place and were able to identify five of the raiders. Also, the prosecution had material evidences implicating the raiders which included the cleaver and wooden sticks in addition to the confessions made by five of them during their interrogation.
During the trail, the defence lawyers claimed that some of the defendants were intimidated or tortured by their captors but this was dismissed by the court.
In 2007, the Pattani provincial court found five of them guilty as charged and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The other six defendants were acquitted due to insufficient evidences.
Two years afterward, the Appeals Court upheld the sentence imposed on the five militants by the Pattani provincial court.