Bangkok: A rebel suspect found unconscious hours after being held in a notorious Thai military camp in the Muslim-majority south could have been suffocated, according to the results of an army-led probe.
The south has been in the grip of a bloody conflict over the last 15 years that has killed nearly 7,000 people ”“ mostly civilians.
The rebels are seeking autonomy for the culturally distinct region free from the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which colonised the area over a century ago.
Suspected rebels are routinely taken for questioning and held under the emergency laws governing the three southernmost states, and allegations of abuse and impunity against the military are rife.
Last Saturday, authorities detained suspected rebel Abdulloh Esormusor, 34, in the infamous Inkayuth detention centre in Pattani province, where hours later he was found unconscious and taken to hospital.
An army-led probe announced there were “no traces of assault and no bruises”, but the severe brain swelling could have been due to an aneurysm or suffocation.
“Doctors recommended that the swollen brain could be caused by... suffocation or a lack of oxygen to the brain,” said the statement released on Friday by a committee made up of army and police officials, as well as NGOs.
“The committee is continuing its truth-finding investigation,” it said.
Abdulloh remains unresponsive, and his “brainstem is not functioning”, said a hospital statement.
The army has vowed to punish anyone found guilty of abuse, but critics say impunity reigns in the south, with no military personnel ever having been successfully proآsecuted. ”” AFP