A Thai judge who worked at the Yala court in the insurgency-hit south of Thailand shot himself on Friday in courtroom after delivering a speech criticizing the country’s justice system.
Kanakorn Pianchana acquitted five Muslim men of murder that day before calling for a fairer judiciary, according to BBC. He then recited a legal oath, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the chest.
Thankfully, the judge survived and was rushed to hospital where he is said to be recovering from his injuries.
It is not fully clear why the judge shot himself, but a statement believed to have been written by him before giving his ruling suggests that his attempt to kill himself was due to alleged interference in the case and pressure on him to find the men guilty despite lack of evidence..
After acquitting the five Muslim men of alleged murder and firearms offences, the judge addressed the court with rare impassioned speech that he broadcast live on Facebook.
“You need clear and credible evidence to punish someone. So if you’re not sure, don’t punish them,” he said.
“I’m not saying that the five defendants didn’t commit the crimes, they might have done so,” he added.
“But the judicial process needs to be transparent and credible… punishing the wrong people makes them scapegoats.”
The Facebook feed then cut but people in court said the judge read out a legal oath in front of the former Thai king’s portrait before whipping out a gun and shooting himself.
A spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, Suriyan Hongvilai, told AFP news agency that the judge shot himself due to “personal stress”.
“At this moment, other fellow judges in Courts of First Instance across the country are being treated the same way as I was,” he wrote.
“[If] I cannot keep my oath of office, I’d rather die than live without honour.”
Criticism of the judicial system by judges is extremely rare in Thailand.
Different Rights groups have alleged that security forces trump up charges against Muslim suspects in the Malay-Muslim majority region, BBC reported.