KANAKORN judge

A Yala province judge who shot himself with a pistol in court Friday after delivering a scathing indictment of injustice in Thailand is recovering from his injuries.

Kanakorn Pianchana, who live-streamed his attempted suicide in court Friday after exonerating five suspects of murder, has been taken out of the ICU while his words have been taken up by those who want to see the judiciary reformed.

Before the judge attempted suicide, he posted a 25-page statement on to his Facebook account. It described his concerns about the justice system and the interference of senior judges in his case.

On Sunday, activists gathered to remember the 43rd anniversary of the Oct. 6, 1976 massacre at Thammasat University, took turns reading from his statement.

Kanakorn had just delivered the verdict acquitting five Muslim suspects in a murder case on Friday afternoon when he gave an impassioned speech streamed over Facebook Live before shooting himself in the chest with a handgun. The wound proved not to be fatal.

Kanakorn said he had been ordered to sentence three to die and give the remaining two life sentences.

“If I followed the order of the director, it would result in the first, third and fourth defendants getting the death penalty, which is only for premeditated killing … and the second and fifth defendants, as conspirators, facing life sentences,” he wrote.

Addressing the court, he cited a lack of “clear and credible evidence, saying that “the judicial process needs to be transparent and credible… punishing wrong people makes them scapegoats.”

Although his manifesto has been deleted, copies remain circulating online.

One sentence from it, “Return verdicts to the judge, return justice to the people,” has been widely shared over the weekend as a rallying cry for those who want a more equitable justice system. Kanakorn’s suicide attempt has been debated over the weekend.

Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Office of the Judiciary, visited Kanakorn on Sunday and told reporters that the justice system is free of interference.

“I insist that the judiciary has neutrality and independence,” Sarawut said during Sunday’s visit.

A full investigation, according to Sarawut, would be conducted regarding Kanakorn’s actions.

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