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5 Oct, 2019 08:50

Thai judge shoots himself in chest in apparent courtroom suicide bid

Thai judge shoots himself in chest in apparent courtroom suicide bid

After dramatically complaining that senior justices pressured him to sentence defendants to death, a Thai judge pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the chest in court in an apparent suicide attempt.

Khanakorn Pianchana was presiding over a case involving murder and firearms charges against five men in a provincial court in the southern city of Yala.

A statement attributed to the judge was widely shared on social media ahead of his ruling. It claimed that senior judges had instructed him to change his verdicts to guilty, The Bangkok Post reports. This would have meant sentencing three of the defendants to death and two to jail.

“At this moment, other fellow judges in Courts of First Instance across the country are being treated the same way as I was. [If] I cannot keep my oath of office, I’d rather die than live without honour,” the statement said. The message was reportedly first posted on Khanakorn’s Facebook page however it could not be found there at the time of writing. 

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Khanakorn acquitted the men of the murder and firearms charges citing lack of evidence. He then produced a pistol and shot himself in the chest in what appeared to be an attempt to end his life.

The judge was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery following the incident. His injuries were not life-threatening but he is still being cared for in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Yala, Workpoint News reports.

The judge’s act has raised concerns about judicial independence in Thailand but a spokesperson for the Office of the Judiciary told the Bangkok Post that Khanakorn shot himself because he had personal issues and was under stress.

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