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Compensation for imam's family

Compensation for imam's family

THAILAND: Security forces have agreed to pay compensation to the family of an imam (an Islamic leader) who died in military custody three years ago in insurgency-plagued south, a court confirmed yesterday.

Friday 5 August 2011, 08:40AM

Imam Yapa Koseng, 56, was arrested on March 19, 2008 and died two days later after a violent interrogation, in a case that inflamed tensions in the Muslim-majority south and drew strong condemnation from rights groups.

The Army, Defence Ministry and police agreed to pay his wife Nima Koseng and three children a total of B5.2 million in compensation during arbitration at Bangkok’s Civil Court.

In its verdict on the case, the court said the payments were for reputational damage, the cost of the funeral and to support the family.

After examining the crime scene, “it was found that... (Mr Yapa) and his family were not at all involved with any insurgency,” said a court report of proceedings, released by Thai rights group Cross Cultural Foundation.

“The three defendants felt sorry for what happened.”

Mrs Nima has separately filed criminal charges against five soldiers, accusing them of illegal detention, abuse of power and torture resulting in death, but a provincial court dismissed the case in September 2010, saying it should be tried by a martial court.

She has since asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the case can be tried by a criminal court.

Mr Yapa’s death provoked a storm of controversy at the time, with Human Rights Watch warning of “systematic and widespread” ill-treatment of detainees.

More than 4,500 people, both Muslims and Buddhists, have died in almost daily attacks since shadowy insurgents launched an uprising in the three southernmost provinces in early 2004.

Struggling to quell the unrest, authorities have imposed emergency rule allowing the army to detain suspects for questioning without charge. – AFP

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