Thailand has carried out its first execution since 2009, putting a 26-year-old convicted murderer to death by lethal injection in a move condemned by Amnesty International as “deplorable”.
Theerasak Longji was executed on Monday, six years after his conviction for stabbing a 17-year-old student 24 times to steal his mobile phone and wallet.
The execution came as Thailand’s coup leader-turned-premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha prepares to travel to Britain and France on a highly-publicised official visit.
The trip may now see the former army chief face awkward questions over the use of the death penalty as well as Thailand’s wider human rights record since he seized power in a 2014 coup.
Prayut, however, defended capital punishment on Tuesday, telling reporters that in order to maintain peace and order in society, executions are “still a necessity and what people want”.
The Department of Corrections, which oversees one of the world’s highest incarceration rates, said 325 convicts have been executed since 1935, the majority by shooting.
That practice ended on December 11, 2003. Between then and 2009 a further six were executed by lethal injection.
Monday’s execution serves as a
“lesson to deter those who wanted to commit a serious crime”, the department added in a statement.
But rights groups and the United Nations hit out at the sudden resumption of the death penalty, which remains mandatory for a number of offences including aggravated murder.