Thailand executes first prisoner by injection since 2009

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Demonstrators from Amnesty International hold placards outside the Bang Kwang Central Prison to protest against the death penalty in Bangkok, Thailand, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha1

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand has executed its first prisoner since 2009, the Department of Corrections said on Tuesday, a move the human rights group Amnesty International condemned as a “deeply misguided” effort to reduce crime.

Theerasak Longji, 26, was executed by lethal injection at Bang Kwang Central Prison north of here on Monday. He was found guilty of murdering a 17-year-old boy in 2012, the department said.

He was the seventh person to be executed by lethal injection since Thailand introduced the method in 2003 to replace execution by firing squad. Before Monday, the last people executed were two Thai drug dealers in 2009.

“This is a deplorable violation to the right of life,” Amnesty’s Thailand campaigner Katherine Gerson said of Theerasak’s execution.

She said Thailand reneged on a commitment to move towards abolishing the death penalty and was out of step with a global shift away from capital punishment.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that surveys showed most Thais were in favour of capital punishment.

Thailand has some of Asia’s most crowded prisons, with most inmates jailed for drug offences. Various governments have had little success in tackling overcrowding.

Thailand has 361,030 prisoners, 520 of whom are on death row, according to data from the Department of Corrections.

Capital punishment can be applied to 35 crimes in Thailand, including murder and drug trafficking.

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