Thai judge dies after second suicide attempt

The Thai judge who attempted suicide in court during October 2019, has died after shooting himself in the heart. Judge Khanakorn Pianchana was protesting at what he said was interference in a politically-charged trial over which he presided. His death last month has been marked by statements of sympathy and concern by a number of international human rights organisations.

Judge Khanakorn Pianchana, 50, had been serving as deputy presiding judge of the Yala Provincial Court.

In October 2019 he made world headlines when he claimed to have been ordered by a more senior judge to re-write a decision in which he acquitted five people charged with murder. Judge Khanakorn found there was not enough evidence to convict the men. They had allegedly been connected with an insurgency in the south of the country.

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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