Thai judge shoots himself in open court in defense of judicial independence

The global media is starting to report on a horrific incident that took place in a Thai courtroom at the beginning of October. Judge Khanakorn Pianchana had just announced the acquittal of five criminal defendants accused of murder when he grabbed a handgun and shot himself in the chest. In a 25-page document explaining his actions, Judge Khanakorn claimed that he had been under political pressure from the ruling authorities to convict the defendants of murder, even though the evidence against the defendants was insufficient and obtained primarily through improper interrogation and detention measures.

Judge Khanakorn survived the shooting and is now recuperating from his injuries. But the incident has shaken Thailand. One issue is why he would take such a drastic step as to attempt suicide in the courtroom. Khanakorn himself explained that he could not ethically convict the suspects without adequate proof, but he knew his career would be destroyed if he exonerated them. Others, however, have postulated that Judge Khanakorn is suffering from extreme depression and related issues that prompted him to try to take his own life.

In any event, it is a stunning incident, and a sad moment for the judge and for the administration of justice.


One thought on “Thai judge shoots himself in open court in defense of judicial independence”

  1. Really shocking. Beyond that tragic suicide, I find it really fundamentally wrong and inappropriate, that, I quote from the related article:

    At present, senior officials in the Judiciary can review the verdict of judges even before the ruling is announced in the trial. Senior judges can compel subordinates to rewrite their initial decision.

    End of quotation:

    So, that was it seems, the underlying phenomenon or concept, causing him to commit suicide. This is an independent judiciary then ? Even if judges or senior judges, check on subordinated judges, urging them to correct rulings, let alone before accomplishing it, that would pose anyway, a real danger for a regime governed by the rule of law. A judge must give rulings, based solely on his personal conviction or persuasion.



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