A judge in Thailand says he would rather die than be part of an unjust judicial system.
After acquitting five men who were accused of murder, Judge Khanakorn Pianchana of the Yala provincial court shot himself in the chest in his courtroom on Friday in an apparent suicide attempt, according to Newsweek. He is now recovering from his injuries, which the Bangkok Post said were not life-threatening.
“I’d rather die than live without honor”
Information about why Khanakorn tried to kill himself comes by way of a 25-page letter that he wrote, which was subsequently shared on social media.
In the letter, Khanakorn claims that other senior judges tried to pressure him into changing his verdict from not guilty to guilty, which would have resulted in three death penalties and two jail sentences for the defendants, according to The Guardian.
Newsweek reports that judges in Thailand have been pushing guilty verdicts for political reasons.
But Khanakorn refused to give in, because, in his view, there was insufficient evidence to convict the men.
“When we punish someone, the punishment wasn’t limited to them alone. Their family is punished, too,” the judge said in a video. “Therefore, if we are not absolutely sure, we shouldn’t punish someone.”
Instead, Khanakorn decided that he’d rather die than make an unjust ruling. “At this moment, other fellow judges in Courts of First Instance across the country are being treated the same way as I was,” the judge wrote in his letter. “[If] I cannot keep my oath of office, I’d rather die than live without honor.”
He went on: “My statements might hold weight as light as a feather, but a judge’s heart must be as firm as a mountain.”
Khanakorn is still alive, but the incident has raised concerns about corruption in the Thai legal system.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the secretary-general of the country’s Future Forward Party, has since come forward to state that he himself has seen evidence of what Khanakorn is talking about. He claims that he witnessed first-hand interference in the murder case at issue.
What will happen to Khanakorn going forward is unclear. The incident is currently under investigation by the Thai Office of the Judiciary.