Family: Slain southern 'suspect' innocent son

Gareemah Bueraheng, 46, holds the graduation day picture of her late son Isma-ae Hama, 28, while insisting on his innocence. (Photo by Abdulloh Benjakat)

NARATHIWAT – The family of a 28-year-old man shot dead by security officers who claimed he reached for a gun said on Tuesday he never carried a firearm and was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Isma-ae Hama, 28, and his neighbour Aseng Useng, 30, were both shot dead on March 29.

Hanifah Hama, the 15-year-old sister of Isma-ae, said at her house in Rueso district on Tuesday that she was travelling with her brother and their neighbour when two vehicles carrying security officers blocked and stopped their pickup truck on a local road in tambon Khok Sator about 1.30pm last Wednesday.

Earlier report: Two suspects killed after southern family murder

One of the officers ordered them out and told both men to sit on the road beside the pickup. Another officer  led her away.

A few minutes later she heard a series of gunshots — first 2-3 shots, followed by 3-5 shots and then what sounded like a single shot, the girl said.

She was then taken to the 46th Task Force base in Rueso, where she was informed that her brother had reached for a gun and been killed.

It was also claimed the two dead men were suspects in the fatal ambush of an assistant village head’s family early this month. 

Hanifah said the Internal Security Operations Command’s (Isoc) announcement that her brother and neighbour failed to stop at a checkpoint and were carrying guns was not true.

There was no manned checkpoint on their route and the two men had complied with the security officials’ orders, Hanifah said. She was kept at the task force camp for interrogation and released about 10pm last Wednesday.

Her 46-year-old mother Gareemah Bueraheng said she had two sons and one daughter. Her second son had died in a traffic accident. Isma-ae was the hope of the family, who were latex collectors. He had graduated with a degree in history in Indonesia over a year ago, his study funded by the family’s savings.

Isma-ae did social work and recently had a teaching job at a private Islamic school in Rueso, Mrs Gareema said. She insisted her slain son never used a firearm.

The grieving mother also said her daughter Hanifah, now her sole remaining child, had become deeply depressed and cried a lot. She missed her big brother, who was close to her. She had witnessed a shocking event, been detained and faced long hours of inappropriate questioning.

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