Lak Si political prison may be shut

July 16, 2014


The Corrections Department is considering shutting down Thailand’s only prison for political prisoners, in Bangkok’s Lak Si area, two years after its highly publicised opening.

The proposal to close the Lak Si temporary detention centre was mooted by prison chief Sorasith Chongcharoen and is now in the hands of newly appointed department director-general Witthaya Suriyawong.

Mr Witthaya did not throw out the plan and said he would make the decision after settling other matters.

The department refurbished a building of what was once the Bang Khen private police school and turned it into the prison for political offenders.

It was opened on Jan 16, 2012, amid criticism that the then Yingluck Shinawatra government wanted to favour red-shirt members fighting charges relating to the 2010 violent rallies by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

An official at the Lak Si temporary prison said it had only 22 inmates now, down from 47 when it opened in a ceremony presided over by then justice minister Pracha Promnok.

Each prisoner is serving a jail term of at least 20 years, including those found guilty by the court of burning the provincial halls in Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani after the army cracked down on the rallies in Bangkok on May 19, 2010.

The department deploys 10 prison staff and 15 police officers to safeguard the place, which requires several million baht to run, added the official, who requested anonymity.

All prisoners will serve their remaining sentences in their home provinces after it is shut, the official added.

The priority of the department is on the appropriate shuffling of officials.

Justice permanent secretary Chanchao Chaiyanukit on Wednesday signed an order to transfer 13 senior officials at the department and some prison chiefs to new positions.

Mr Witthaya signed another order to transfer 46 mid-level officials at prisoners across the country to new positions.

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