Thai judge shoots himself in court: protest at ‘political interference’

When Thai judge Khanakorn Pianchana reached the end of the judgment in a case he had been hearing, he read out a statement. He next walked from the bench to bow before a portrait of Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn. Then he took a pistol from his pocket and shot himself. He was immediately rushed to hospital where he is now reported as out of danger. But what caused the judge to take such dramatic and potentially fatal action?

The case before Judge Khanakorn Pianchana involved five people charged with offences including murder, illegal association and certain gun-related offences. They were arrested two months after the shooting of five people in the remote Bannang Sata district. Three of the accused were charged with the murders and the remaining two with being accomplices.

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World Day against the Death Penalty – editorial

Our lead story this week is the most extraordinary tale of one man’s devotion to judicial independence. It is about a judge in Thailand who decided on death rather than dishonouring his oath of office. But, like the two other stories, it is also about the death penalty.

Judge Khanakorn Pianchana had found he should acquit the accused on trial before him. Before he could deliver his judgment, however, the chief judge ordered him to change his verdict: Instead of acquittal, three of the accused were to be sentenced to death; the other two to life imprisonment. Had he agreed to this, not only would he have violated his oath of office in obedience to political demands, he would also have sent three people to death row, unconvinced that they were guilty.

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We can’t change death penalty – Tanzanian High Court

A full bench of three high court judges has re-affirmed that the mandatory death penalty in Tanzania is constitutionally valid. No new factors had been given to the court to indicate that anything had changed since the last time the issue was considered by the judiciary, said the judges, so they could not vary the previous decisions or rehear the issue ‘on the same facts’. But, they said, the issue could be taken to the highest court via review if the petitioners felt strongly about the matter.

Read more

Thai judge shoots himself in court: protest at ‘political interference’

When Thai judge Khanakorn Pianchana reached the end of the judgment in a case he had been hearing, he read out a statement. He next walked from the bench to bow before a portrait of Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn. Then he took a pistol from his pocket and shot himself. He was immediately rushed to hospital where he is now reported as out of danger. But what caused the judge to take such dramatic and potentially fatal action?

The case before Judge Khanakorn Pianchana involved five people charged with offences including murder, illegal association and certain gun-related offences. They were arrested two months after the shooting of five people in the remote Bannang Sata district. Three of the accused were charged with the murders and the remaining two with being accomplices.

Read more

World Day against the Death Penalty – editorial

Our lead story this week is the most extraordinary tale of one man’s devotion to judicial independence. It is about a judge in Thailand who decided on death rather than dishonouring his oath of office. But, like the two other stories, it is also about the death penalty.

Judge Khanakorn Pianchana had found he should acquit the accused on trial before him. Before he could deliver his judgment, however, the chief judge ordered him to change his verdict: Instead of acquittal, three of the accused were to be sentenced to death; the other two to life imprisonment. Had he agreed to this, not only would he have violated his oath of office in obedience to political demands, he would also have sent three people to death row, unconvinced that they were guilty.

Read more

We can’t change death penalty – Tanzanian High Court

A full bench of three high court judges has re-affirmed that the mandatory death penalty in Tanzania is constitutionally valid. No new factors had been given to the court to indicate that anything had changed since the last time the issue was considered by the judiciary, said the judges, so they could not vary the previous decisions or rehear the issue ‘on the same facts’. But, they said, the issue could be taken to the highest court via review if the petitioners felt strongly about the matter.

Read more