LY TONG’S TESTIMONY BEFORE THE CRIMINAL COURT OF RAYONG
FOR THE LAST COURT HEARING ON 25 DECEMBER, 2003
I. The Purpose and Motivations of My Freedom Fighting Activities
I was a jet pilot of the Republic of Vietnam, and I am a United States citizen. Before 1975, I had fought against Communist aggressors to defend my country. After 1975, I had the duty as a citizen and a soldier to liberate my people from the Communist Yoke. I have been in prison for 17 years. The number of years that I have been in prison was longer than that of former Czech Republic President, Mr. Havel; of former Polish President, Mr. Walesa; and only shorter than that of former South African President, Mr. Mandela. The reason of my imprisonment was not different from theirs: Fighting for my country and my people’s Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights. The only small difference was that I fought not only for my country, but also for other countries such as Cuba and the remaining communist countries. Ironically, I was tried not only by the communist, dictatorial, and enemy regimes like them, but also by a democratic country and a former ally! I had been in Thai prison for 5 years: 3 years this time in Rayong and 2 years last time in Aran Jail when I escaped from Vietnam as a political asylum seeker. Now, the false and fabricated charges might put the rest of my life in Thai prison and I could surpass former president Mandela in prison term if Thai justice was not to be defended properly. As an advocate of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., “I cannot enjoy things denied to others,” I have supported their ideas that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.” Therefore, I must continue to fight in a peaceful and non-violent way: dropping leaflets to wake up the oppressed so they would stand up and struggle for freedom, democracy, human rights, and justice that have been robbed by the communist regimes in Vietnam, Cuba, China, and North Korea.
II. My Mission Was Planned In Cambodia, Not In Thailand
On the occasion of President Bill Clinton’s visit to Vietnam from 16 to 18 November, 2000, I left the United States for Cambodia on 1 November and arrived at Phnom Penh on 4 November with a guide. I planned: 1. to buy a small airplane; 2. to rent a training airplane to fly by myself; 3. to rent a charter plane with its pilot; or 4. to take a flight training course. With the instruction of my guide’s friends in high-ranked positions, I contacted Mission Aviation Fellowship, a charter company, and planned to fly with an Australian pilot named Alan for 3 hours on 9 November after having made a deposit in advance for 3,000.00 (three thousand) U.S. dollars (P54-N2)1. Due to the company’s busy flight schedule, with its only one aircraft and its director visiting Phnom Penh on 15 November, I had only another chance to activate my flight plan on 14 November. The flight, first, was delayed due to its coincidence in take-off time at Phnom Penh and destination to Siem Reap with that of China’s President Jiang Zemin, and then, was cancelled by my guide’s betrayal. I intended to go to Laos but an Air Force Colonel informed me about Hua Hin Flight Training School. Though I did not believe in his tip, I tried it anyway. I flew to Bangkok in the afternoon on 14 November and stayed overnight there and then departed for Hua Hin the next morning. I found out about the “The Civil Aviation Training Institute” and looked for Cessna 172, the model that I had a license to fly. When told that there was no Cessna 172 to rent, I requested a flight training on the two-engine HS-TCL model which had long flight range and storm window which I could use to drop leaflets. I paid in advance for 9 hours, around 200 dollars an hour, and flew with Thira, the flight instructor, on the next day, 16 November. I expected that with my 5,000-flight hour experience in 4 different types of aircrafts, especially the Jet Bomber A-37, I would be allowed to fly solo within 3-6 training hours.
III. An Experiment On 16 November Flight
- Reward, Explanation, And Persuasion Approach
During this three-hour cross-country flight, through our conversation, I recognized that Thira was an idealist. So besides reward as a small gift to show my appreciation to his heroic act, how should I explain and persuade to win his voluntary cooperation? The most important thing was to present to him my Just Cause. I had to assure him my sole responsibility for the mission, the complete safety of the mission, and used the Havana mission as a precedent and an example. I believed my mission would be welcome by Thailand. That was why I came back to Utapao. And Thira believed in what I presented. That was why he volunteered to go along with me. Moreover, I expected to receive a hero welcome after this mission in Thailand as I did in Miami after the Havana mission; but, ironically, the prize for my sacrifice to bring a chance for the oppressed to live up to human dignity, values, and rights was Rayong prison and Rayong court during the last three years!
After the first training flight, Thira’s boss asked him about my flying skills, he gave the thumbs-up: number one. I expected that, the next day, after making a couple of touch-and-go practices at Utapao, he would let me fly solo. But, unfortunately, on 17 November morning, the weather turned out so bad that my flight might be cancelled if the rain did not stop. Around noon time, there were some good signs. With my insistence, the school agreed to let me fly, but flying solo was hopeless in this bad weather.
- Preparing The Letter To Persuade Instructor Thira
I had to prepare my letter which was edited by John Cosgrove, my American former classmate who had a Ph.D. degree in Political Science, and addressed to Alan in Phnom Penh. John helped take care of editing all my English papers because English was my second language. I made a false note at the head of my letter, “This is a piece of excerpt from my new spy novel: The James Bond of Vietnam. Please edit it immediately so I can turn in my manuscript to the publisher on time” (P49-N0), so he would not suspect it and refuse to edit it for me. Moreover, I wanted to keep my mission secret from everybody except myself and my guide. I had no chance to read it after receiving John’s fax, and then I had to make some quick scanning for places in need of correction. I found some typewritten mistakes: “crowd” instead of “ground.” I did correct it. I kept the word “ground” even though I would fly over the Gulf of Siam. When seeing the verb “plunge,” I thought it was a better diction that John used to replace my original verb “jump off” (P49-N1).
- Purposes Of My Letter To Instructor Thira
My letter, in fact, was aimed at five purposes:
- Presenting the mission’s objective: Helping bring Liberty, Justice, and Freedom to
the downtrodden peasants living under Vietnam’s current reprehensible dictatorship
- Explaining how to accomplish it: fly low, at low altitude (P50-N7, 8).
- Arousing instructor Thira’s compassion: my untimely demise, my death, I jump off the aircraft into the ground (P50-N2, 3, 5).
- Assuring my sole responsibility (P50-N6, 9).
- Offering a reward (P50-N4), (P51-N1, 4).
The most important purpose was the fourth point: my responsibility, which could be proved by the sentences such as: “I will take all responsibilities for violating any FAA regulations,” or “… turn this letter over to the authorities as proof of my sole
responsibilities…” to avoid any troubles for my instructor. Ironically, with dark scam and conspiracy, the corrupted officials distorted the letter and turned it into a source of threat and coercion to charge me of hijack!
- What If Thira Did Not Help Or Cooperate With Me?
If Thira refused to go along with me, I would let him get off at a remote area with 10,000.00 (ten thousand) U.S. dollars reward and the letter to confirm my responsibilities for the mission, then fly solo and pay any damage on my return. If he squarely rejected both deals and insisted on taking the airplane back, I would have no choice but to cancel my mission as the last resort, in an appropriate way by giving him 1,000.00 (one thousand) dollars and asking him to report to the school that I got a serious stomach trouble and could not continue to fly. Therefore, I had to get off and go to the hospital for a treatment. So, my plan would still be kept secret and only two of us knew it. Then, I would go with another plan, either looking for another flight school or leaving for Laos. Because I was a world-class freedom fighter with Just Cause, I surely could not do any harm to him and the school’s property. My end was noble and my means was peaceful and non-violent.
- “Why” Did Thira Voluntarily Cooperate With Me In This Mission?
He voluntarily helped me thanks, firstly, to my explanation and persuasion. I explained to him about the radar operation, the Migs’ limitations and incapability. I persuaded him with my total responsibilities for the mission and the Havana mission’s precedent. He was willing to cooperate with me because of my behavior: nice, good; only begging, no threat, no force; because I was patriotic, humanitarian like him: to help my people, my country, the oppressed; because of my Just Cause: Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights; and lastly, because of the reward for his heroic act.
Thira also knew that communists are evils. They raided Thailand in 1985 and 1987, killing hundreds of Thai soldiers and people. He might be a protagonist of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thira might also think that as a freeman living in a free country, he and Thailand had the duty to cooperate with me to fight against communists.
- The Real Scene Playing
On Thursday noon, 16 November 2000, I asked hotel manager Boonkhur to videotape Thira, me, the aircraft, and the Hua Hin airport for souvenir and documentation. At 12:10 p.m., on Friday 17 November 2000, we boarded the aircraft with me sitting on the left seat, the main seat reserved for pilot and student, and Thira on the right seat, for co-pilot and instructor pilot. As a training procedure, I started the engine, taxied, took off and flew the aircraft toward Utapao under my instructor Thira Sukying’s supervision. When getting up to 5 thousand feet, I gave my instructor an envelope and disconnected the communication. He was surprised and fearfully asked me, “What are you doing?” I pleaded him, “Please stay calm, my friend, and take time to read my document.” He asked, “Where are we going?” I answered, “We’re going to Kampuchea and then Saigon, Vietnam. The document will explain to you about this mission and what we should do to accomplish it. Please help me, help my people, help my country, and help the cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights. In this envelope is ten thousand dollars in cash. I will send you five more thousand dollars when I’m back to America. I also give you this video camera and all my belongings left at the hotel. That’s a small gift for your help, your cooperation.” He read my handwritten note outside the envelope (P51), had a quick look inside the envelope which contained 10,000 (ten thousand) U.S. dollars in cash, the leaflets (P48), and a letter (P50) without taking the letter out of the envelope to read. Then he told me, “But I don’t want to lose my job.” I replied, “I am responsible for this mission. Don’t worry, my friend.” I related to Thira the hero welcome that I’d received after the Havana mission by half a million people in Miami and dozens of medals and resolutions bestowed upon me by high-ranking officials in legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. Thira added, “But I don’t want to die.” “I don’t want to die either, my friend. I assure you that this mission is completely safe,” I explained, “I’ve already succeeded in my two previous missions, one in Vietnam and one in Cuba. I’m a pilot with five-thousand-flight hours. I’ve experienced many tough battles. I’m an expert. Please believe me.” Thira added, “But the radar will detect us!” I replied, “When we flew under five hundred feet, no ground radar can detect us, and there’s no ground radar in Phnom Penh, only in Battambang. I’ve just returned from there. Don’t you remember yesterday, when we flew back from the Southern trip, we reported our position at ten miles South of Hua Hin airport and 3,000-feet altitude but the control tower’s radar had a hard time to find us even we had the transponder turned on to NAV?” (An aircraft radio giving out signals during NAVigation so the radar could identify it.) “But the MIGs will shoot us!,” Thira had another worry. I continued to explain, “I had a chance to go into Phnom Penh airport with a Cambodian Air Force colonel and checked all the aircraft in the hangars and parking lots. This colonel showed me that there were only two aircraft available for training. All others were out of order, either being destroyed by the Vietnamese communists or lacking the spare parts to repair. Moreover, the communist airport authorities never fill up fuel tanks because they are afraid either the fuel or the aircraft would be stolen. Only before the mission, they load the missiles, refill the tanks just enough for the mission, and when they take off, we are already long gone. Even if we are still around, they would not be able to find us easily. Every two months, there is an air collision here and there in the world.” Then I reminded him of our own experience, “Don’t you remember? When we were allowed to enter the landing pattern yesterday, we were no. 3, and it was difficult to find no. 2 and no. 1 aircraft although we knew they were somewhere in front of us.” “Now I trust you. What do you want me to do?” Thira composed himself and asked me while putting the money in his pocket. “We need to be in the air for about 5 hours. So, please take care of fuel conservation and when we arrive at Saigon, you’ll help flying while I am dropping leaflets and videotaping Saigon,” I answered while descending and leveling off at two hundred feet over the Gulf of Siam. (When we went down under the threshold of 500 feet on the sea level, Utapao ground radar lost our aircraft’s signal; therefore, they sent a rescue group to search for us.) When I was busy making a phone call back to the U.S., I asked him to control the aircraft, he slowly turned the aircraft left toward Utapao base. When I recognized it, I told him, “My friend, please keep the heading toward Saigon, Vietnam.” That was the only time he tried to do his own way. After having given back the control to me, he took out the manual, read it and adjusted the mixtures and the propeller pitch accordingly. “Let’s enjoy the beautiful morning, the sea, the sky, and the mountain. Isn’t it a nice sightseeing tour?” I asked him. “I’ve never dreamed of crossing other countries this way before. I’ve always wanted to be a commercial pilot,” he joyfully confided his feeling. “You will be our hero. You will be famous after this mission. You can make your dreams come true,” I suggested.
Besides adjusting propeller pitch and fuel mixture according to the airplane altitude (compared to sea level), Thira also volunteered to take care of ground obstacles and other suspected signs such as aircraft, military post, or gun battery. Our intrusion was 100% safe because nobody saw us or paid attention to us. I explained to Thira the further wonder of GPS.
When we came near Saigon, I signaled Thira to take over the control and prepared my camera and leaflets. He informed me, “We’ve just passed the (Tan Son Nhat) airport.” I could not see it due to the rainfalls and my foggy, blurry shortsighted eyeglasses. Then he asked, “Which direction do you want to go?” I replied, “Toward the city center, to the tall buildings. Turn right at the riverbank. Then follow all the main streets, one after another.” Most of our conversation was about the direction. I showed him where to fly to by saying and pointing at the places, “Turn right, go to the right, on the left side, turn this way, to the big buildings, down there, look at the crowded places to go, you see?” Or, “Go along the street…” and Thira answered with “Yeah, OK” or asked again if he did not understand with “Which way? Right? Okay? Left or right?” Or, “Where is the street? I can’t see…” Thira was so devoted that he steered the aircraft with the right hand and used his left hand to keep my camera from falling because its base was too narrow and uneven after it fell once on the dashboard.
He flew so low in the rain with visibility less than one mile that many times I couldn’t help asking, “You see clearly the antennae and the buildings? Be careful with the buildings! Look at the antennae, antennae! A little bit higher!” He kept assuring me his low flying was completely safe with statements like “Okay. I see.” He enjoyed it, waved back and laughed joyfully and loudly two times when I shouted. “Look! Thira. The children are waving to us on the streets! Some people wave to me. You see? People out there, the guys wave! People are watching us!” When we finished dropping the leaflets over Saigon, Thira asked me with pleasure, “Okay! You satisfied with the result?” I answered happily,”Yeah!” and gave a thumb-up (number one). When we were ready to go to Tay Ninh, a province West of Saigon, Vietnam, bordering next to Cambodia, Thira asked me, “How far away is the next target?” I replied, “ 37 miles, 4 miles from Tay Ninh’s city center.”
We were flying over Saigon around 25 minutes to finish all the leaflets reserved for this city. The whole city saw our aircraft but the radar did not! Later I knew from reading newspapers that the Vietnamese communist authorities mistook our airplane for that of the government, which used to drop official leaflets to mobilize the city’s residents to attend tomorrow’s welcome demonstration on the occasion of President Bill Clinton’s visit! They only recognized the problem after being informed of the “anti-revolutionary and reactionary content” of my leaflets! The news also mentioned that they sent two MIGs up when we already left Saigon and finished dropping leaflets over Tay Ninh, the second target, 37-minute flight from Saigon. Thanks to an overcast sky. I decided to climb up to 6000 (six thousand) feet, flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rule) through dark clouds to save the fuel so we could go back to Thailand safely. Flying in dense clouds was even safer than flying low under 500 feet. When we reached Phnom Penh airport, the cloud became broken and we could see the capital through clear holes. I told Thira, “You see! Now, we fly 6 thousand feet over their heads but they don’t know anything because Phnom Penh has no radars as I’ve told you.” At that time, Thira had total trust in what I had said through his own real and factual experience. I told him, “People call this a ‘mission impossible.’ But nothing is impossible if we have a good plan, good execution, and a strong resolve, right?” I held his hand once in a while and expressed my appreciation, “Thank you very much, my friend. My people, my country will forever appreciate your help today. You will be our honor guest when Vietnam is free of communism.” When I was looking for a Thai runway near Cambodian border to land as I had planned based on fuel consumption, Thira proposed that we should land back at Utapao. I asked him, “Are you sure that we have enough fuel to fly to Utapao safely?” Thira confirmed, “We have more than enough fuel to land at Utapao!” I accepted his proposal and gave back the control of the aircraft as well as the headset so he could communicate with Utapao Control Tower. After reporting our position and requesting for landing, Thira had a long conversation in Thai with Utapao Control Tower officials. I didn’t understand Thai but I knew he was reporting our mission. He sounded happy as though we were welcomed back as heroes. In the high mood, he asked me, “What do you intend to do after landing?” I told him, “I want to have a small toast party tonight for both of us to celebrate the success of our mission.” I assured him that I would send 5,000.00 (five thousand) more U.S. dollars so he could have a party with the whole school. I asked him to give back the cell phone to hotel manager Boonkhur and gave him 200 (two hundred) dollars for an extra hour that we flew. (I paid in advance 9 hours but two missions took 10 hours.) He replied, “That’s OK” and did not take it but asked me instead, “Can I have your GPS (Global Positioning System)?” I told him without any hesitation, “Sure! You can have it, too. I will send you an instruction book so you know how to exploit all its terrific functions.” When we got in the landing pattern, Thira asked me, “Do you want to land?” “No, thank you” I replied, “I am tired because I have flown for 6 hours and a half in this 7-hour mission.” Thanks to his true and honest report during the time he conversed with Utapao Control Tower, I was welcomed at Utapao as a guest, not a hijacker as later being falsely charged.
I understood that all the major witnesses, especially Captain Luechai and the police officers at Banchang Police Station, knew this true story, (my lawyer told me that, too), because right after landing, pilot Thira did tell the truth. However, they tried to commit perjury according to a conspiracy, so I would prove their lies and this real story by using their testimonies and evidences in the next chapters.
- Three Stages of False Allegations About A Written Threat From My Letter To Thira
- Proofs Of Thira Telling The Truth In The Two First Investigations And
Thira’ s Voluntary Cooperation
-The evidence videotape filmed over Saigon and played before the Rayong Court on
16 July 2002 recorded a friendly, cooperative conversation between me and Thira.
The transcript recorded by an independent translator appointed by Judge Batac-Chai confirmed what I had written in my testimony almost 3 years ago. All of Thira’s questions, asking for directions, were in the transcript. The transcript was recorded 2 times of my joyful announcement about the people waving to us on the streets and Thira’s joyful laugh two times while waving back to them (P64-N1, 2). Five times, I reminded him of high buildings and antennae in the rain, and he confirmed that his low flying was safe with “Okay, I see” replies. The transcript recorded the sound of my video camera falling on the dashboard, confirming what I’d testified before in the following statement, “Thira was so devoted that he steered the aircraft with the right hand and used his left hand to keep my camera from falling again because its base was too narrow and uneven.” Most importantly, the transcript recorded Thira’s joyfully asking, “Okay! You satisfied with the result?” (P64-N3). Besides the friendly and cooperative conversations, the friendly and cooperative tone of Thira’s conversation was confirmed by the independent translator although he could not testify as a transcript witness before the court due to his profession as a journalist. If I had recorded all my explanations and persuasions at the beginning of the flight (in the first part of “The Real Scene Playing”), the conspiracy could not have succeeded in harming me in the last three years.
-In picture number 1 taken at Utapao conference room, right after landing, instructor Thira had a friendly conversation and broad smiles with me. In picture number 2 taken at Banchang police station in the early next morning 18 November 2000, Thira answered the police investigator with a joyful and happy face. How could a man “after having been threatened with death during 7-hour flight” have this happy face and broad smile? His happy face with a broad smile was completely contrary to a seriously frightened face he had at Prachuap Court under the witness of Consul Jeffrey (P63-N1, 2).
–Utapao officials treated me with such great hospitality as offering me soft drink, coffee, cakes, fruit… as well as letting me use my cell phone. Luechai did not see my letter (P79-N14) and 10,000 (ten thousand) U.S. dollars (P79-N13) because Thira did not read the letter, did not mention the letter and the reward money. Later, at Banchang police station, the police took the money from him (P91-N20),
-I was allowed to have phone interview with a radio talk show from the United States the whole morning of 18 November. After two generals finished their interviewing with Thira, around 11 a.m., the school director asked me: “Whom does this cell phone belong to?” I replied, “I rented it from the hotel manager, Mr. Boonkhur.” “If it is not your phone, I have to take it to give it back to Mr. Boonkhur,” the school director said and kept the cell phone from then on.
–I was not handcuffed since landing until being transferred to the detention room, even during the escort from Utapao base to Banchang Police Station. Thira’s testimony confirmed this (P91-N18) as well as the picture of me and the interpreter, Mrs. Suthathif, taken at Banchang Police Station and that of me and Thira taken at Utapao after landing (P63).
-After attending the police investigation, Luechai told me at 3:30 a.m. on 18 November that, “Police cannot lock you up because, according to Thira’s testimony, you committed no crime.”
-Suthathif: “Thira and Ly Tong had a friendly, private talk at Banchang Police Station (P86-N5). We had three private talks which included: 1- I told Thira, “Keep the money (10 thousand dollars). Don’t let the police know and take it.” Thira replied, “They already took it!” Mrs. Suthathif could not hear this low voice talking but she must have heard two other conversations. 2- When I had an interview with a radio talk show from the United States, I asked Thira, “How long did we fly over Saigon?” He answered, “About 25 minutes.” 3- After the school director forced Thira to change the story and the police had to fabricate a new report, I refused to sign it and asked Thira sitting in front of us (police Choompol, translator Suthathif, and me, Ly Tong), “Thira! Did I make any threat, any force to you as in the police report that has been fabricated?” Thira kept silent with his sorrowful face.
–Banchang police reserved one private room for me alone while letting the female detainee sleep along the entrance hall and having the male room crowded with 8-10 detainees.
–Another Police General gave order to install a new mosquito net system at my request due to his high respect for me, long before he could recognize that I was his classmate at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, U.S., in 1966, that was 34 years ago! Mr. Pilom Saramat’s affidavit proved these two evidences.
To prove that Thira volunteered to help me, I asked Luechai, “Did Thira refuse to go with me?” Luechai answered, “Thira did not inform me that he denied going along with the accused” (P79-N12).
When I cross-examined Choompol and Suvit with a question, “Tell me exactly how I threatened Thira?” Choompol admitted that, “Thira’ testimony did not show that the defendant threatened him with the razor cutter in anyway” (P75-N10); and Suvit also admitted that, “The informer did not inform me about the accused using threat toward Thira” (P69-N4), and “I did not ask Thira whether the accused threatened him with any weapon or not” (P69-N3).
The testimonies of these three investigators proved that Thira did not mention the threat in the two first investigations from 7:15 p.m. on 17 November to 3:30 a.m. on 18 November 2000 at Utapao and Banchang police station.
- Proofs Of The First-Stage False Allegations After General Pakorn and the School Boss Came to Banchang Police Station.
-After these bosses forced Thira to change story, they still did not pay attention to the letter; therefore, the police report did not mention the letter and a crash threat (P56–N3).
-Suthathif: “My husband got upset when Thira changed story because we are justice defenders. Please help me to calm him down.” And “Thira told me that the accused was very nice to him on board. He used no threat, no force, only begging for help. Being afraid of losing his job and his family, Thira had to change the story. And he was very sorry.”
When I asked her, “Did anybody mention the threat of crash from the letter at Banchang police station?” She replied, “I cannot recall!” (P85-N4). I added, “Did you see any threat from the letter?” She answered, “No, there were no wordings in the said letter which implied any actions forced upon the pilot of the aircraft…without intimidation of any kind, only begging for help and mentioned democracy, freedom, and human rights” (P86-N7). Her statement proved that the crash threat from the letter was only fabricated by Chaisak later in the afternoon after the police had already made the report. That was why the police report did not mention the word “letter” and the letter as a source of “crash threat” as the court indictment charged!
-Because there was no concrete evidence to charge me, Thai Foreign Ministry hurriedly fabricated a grenade threat, “Once aboard, he allegedly told the pilot he was carrying a grenade and would detonate it unless the aircraft diverted across the Gulf of Thailand and toward Ho Chi Minh city…” (P60-N1, 4).
-Suvit, who did not know about navigation, made up an insane charge that “The accused forced Thira to change seat so he could take over the control of the aircraft” (P68-N1). This really showed that he did not have any basic knowledge about the aircraft. Choompol, Luechai, Chaisak, Thira… had rejected this fabricated charge by testifying that, “The aircraft had 2 driver’s seats, both can be driven” (P74-N5).
-I did not sign the police report to protest the false allegation (P56-N4).
- Proofs Of The Second-Stage False Allegations After Expert Chaisak Came to Banchang Police Station
– Mr. Chaisak examined my document carefully and fished out a typewritten mistake and advised the witnesses and the prosecution to use this false evidence to charge me of hijack. But all the prosecution witnesses still made mistakes in their false allegations. Why? Because all liars, even well coordinated, always made mistakes.
-Dusadee testified wrongly that I used a verbal threat instead of a written threat in the letter (P77-N4).
-When I asked Luechai, “You did not see the letter, did not read it. You only heard what Thira testified. So what did Thira tell you?” Luechai answered mistakenly that I had threatened to crash the aircraft into the sea, contradicting to the ground written in my letter (P78-N3), (P79-N16).
Choompol and Luechai both destroyed the first true reports. Then captain Luechai, who investigated Thira from 7:15 pm to 11:30 pm right after landing, testified that, “It’s not my duty to make report” (P78-N7) and Lieutenant Police Choompol, from 12 a.m. to 3:30 a.m., testified that, “I did two examinations but did not record anything in the first one” (P75-11). The second examination, in fact, was nothing but just to carry out the order from his boss to record down the false allegation with a vague and abstract force and threat, (P56-N4). The first report was the one accomplished at 3:30 a.m., and Luechai, after learning the result, went out and told me before leaving for Utapao that, “Police cannot lock you up because, according to Thira’s testimony, you committed no crime!”. It sounded like a tricky joke, or correctly said, a contempt for investigative regulations when the two major investigators, at the crucial moment, did not record their examinations in this case.
One reason making them so negligent in recording it was that there was nothing serious to record, but a couple of thousand baht fine violation, according to Thira’s honest and true testimony.
-The flight school feared that Thira could make mistake when telling lies as being ordered, so the staff refused Bangkok Post’s interview with “Thira was on month-long trip to the U.S. and would be due back next month” (P62-N2). I asked Consul Paul Mayer to check the visa office and he confirmed that there was no such thing.”
-When I asked Thira about Mrs. Suthathif and what he talked to her, Thira quickly negated it by testifying that he did not know who Mrs. Suthathif was, what she did there, even though she stayed around the police station the whole morning talking to him for about one hour (P87-N8) and bought breakfast for him, the police, and me free-of-charge. She also helped him translate my letter. He claimed he did not know who Mrs. Suthathif was because he did not want to remember what he had said to her which was that, “Ly Tong was very nice to me. He used no threat, no force, only begging for help. Being afraid of losing my job and my family, I changed story. And I’m very sorry” and because he would be charged of perjury if he contradicted his previous false testimony forced by his boss.
- Why Did Thira Change Story? Why Did The Conspiracy Fail?
- Why Did Thira Change Story?
According to witness Makawadee Sumitmoh before the Bangkok court, the Vietnamese Ambassador requested Thai government to extradite me back to Vietnam (P81-N3). However, there’s no extradition agreement between Thailand and Vietnam; therefore, Vietnam threatened to sue Thailand if instructor Thira was willing and voluntary to help me accomplish my mission. Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai tried to avoid the dilemma by saying that “If we let people commit this crime and walk away freely, our friend, Vietnam, would be angry” and “I have personally instructed the national police chief to carefully investigate the issue as if this incident occurs repeatedly, it could create misunderstanding with our neighbors” (P60-N2, 3). Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat also added “There were no legal hurdles and Thailand would be willing to cooperate” when Nguyen Di Nien, Vietnamese Communist Foreign Minister “requested that three Vietnamese officials allowed to participate in Ly Tong’s trial” (P61-N5, 6). In this dire situation, Thira’s Boss and Police General Pakorn could do nothing but force Thira to change story to avoid being involved in this trouble.
Most importantly, Chaisak warned Thira of the probability of being charged in this case if he volunteered to help me (P80-N8).
- 2. Why Did The Conspiracy Fail?
- All Liars Made Mistakes Or Betrayed Themselves
That was the case of the Foreign Ministry with grenade explosion threat, Suvit’s changing seat, Dusadee’s verbal threat, Luechai’s crashing the aircraft into the sea, Choompol’s fabricated report with an additional blue cutter as weapon, Thira’s unintentional admission of my control of the aircraft from the beginning, my nicety and politeness to him, and our friendly, normal conversation during the flight.
- The Conspiracy Breaker
The most important witness whose courage and honesty had unmasked all the liars was the police interpreter, Mrs. Suthathif. She confirmed what I wrote in my testimony from the first hearing.
-Mrs. Suthathif repeated Thira’s statement: “Ly Tong was very nice to me. He used no threat, no force, only begging for help. Being afraid of losing job and family, I changed story. I’m very sorry.”
-“My husband got upset when Thira changed story. (P87-N12).
-Ly Tong and Thira had a friendly, private conversation at Banchang Police Station (P86-N5).
-When I asked her, “Did anybody mention about the threat from the letter?” She replied, “I cannot recall” (P85-N4).
-She also confirmed, “There were no wordings in the said letter which implied any actions forced upon the pilot of the aircraft…without intimidation of any kind, only begging for help and mentioning about democracy, freedom, and human rights.
-Four translators: Kig, Charlie, Banyat, and Maneesam (P51-N0), (P50-N1) confirmed before the Rayong Court that “To plunge into the ground” meant to jump off not to crash; and jumping off the aircraft did not cause any danger because it was a normal activity in sky-diving training.
-John Cosgrove, the editor of this letter, confirmed in his affidavit (P52-N1) that the verb “plunge” he used means jump off, similar to the word I used in my original letter (P49-N1). In the letter he edited, there were not only one typewritten mistake “off” with verb “plunge” but also other mistakes such as “whom” instead “who,” “of” instead of “off” and “prey” instead of “pray.” The last one was the severest error. It changed the meaning of “to pray”: to say a sermon into “to prey”: to hunt an animal. But all the Thai official translators including Mr. Chaisak, translators of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs did recognize this mistake and translate it correctly (to say a sermon). Why? Because of its context and because there was no animal hunting in this situation, in the letter context.
Only saying a sermon was appropriate. So was the verb “plunge.” Each English word had many different meanings according to different contexts it belonged to.
The letter focused on presenting the just cause: democracy, freedom, the responsibility of mine for the mission, the measure to avoid trouble for pilot Thira and begging for help. So, there was only one way to translate the verb “plunge”: jump off to commit suicide to arouse pilot Thira’s sympathy and compassion for his help. The idea of using verb jump originated from the previous mission. When I prepared to jump off Vietnam Airliner, the Hungarian pilot told me: “Don’t jump. You will die. I will help you by flying back to Thailand and you can get away safely.” Every book, magazine, printed document, even the speech text of national leaders had typewritten mistakes. They were inadvertent mistakes when typing, especially in hurry as in John Cosgrove’s case, not by lack of English command, because John is an American with a Ph.D. degree. Moreover, I learned the lesson from the September, 1992 mission in which I was charged of hijack because I used a false threat like Soe Myint did: disguising a bar of soap as a bomb, and got a 20-year sentence while he was acquitted. That was why I changed my method of accomplishing my next missions by renting aircraft and flying by myself and I always behaved nicely, politely. (Thira did confirm my nicety and politeness). Even in the previous hijack case, flight-attendant witnesses had testified before Vietnam court that I was a gentleman and treated the flight crew with respect and kindness. So why should I be so stupid to commit the same mistake with a threat, even a false threat, in this mission, especially a threat recorded in a letter, an evidence nobody could negate? My only mistake this time was that I considered Thailand a former ally and a free country and expected it to treat me like the U.S. did: Hero welcome! If I had known Thailand as I did now after painful experiences, I should not have done my mission in Thailand or flown back to Thailand but landed in Cambodia or in a remote Thai runway and walked away safely.
VII. The Razor Cutter Issue
To materialize the false threat, Choompol fabricated a false report 10 days later with additional razor cutter (P58-N1) even though two previous reports on 18 November did not have it (P55-N2), (P57-N1). Fortunately, Suthathif did confirm in her testimony that “I had not noticed the razor cutter among the said items” (P87-N11). Luechai also testified that “from checking the defendant’s suitcase and bag, I did not see any weapon, anything could be used as weapon, neither could I find a blue cutter” (P79-N11). Then Dosadee confirmed, “I did not see a razor cutter and nail cutter held in the evidence, neither a grenade” (P77-N5). Suvit said, “I asked the accused to take out and show all his belongings carried with him to me, but I did not see the weapon” (P69-N2), as well as Chaisak, “From checking the evidence, I did not find any weapon the accused brought with him on the plane” (P80-N6). Mrs. Makawadee testified that “the pilot did not see the weapon” (P81-N5). And most importantly, Mr. Thira, by himself, confirmed in the testimony at Prachuap, even contrary to his previous allegation, that “the accused did not show any weapon” (P91-N15); And “razors and finger cutter were brought by on-duty wardens to Mr. Ly Tong four, five days later,” confirmed by Pilom Saramat’s Affidavit (P59-N1).
VIII. The Letter Issue
Thira Did Not Read And Understand The Letter
When I gave Thira the envelope, he only read the note in the front of the envelope (P51), which said:
Dear Mr. Thira S.
Please remain calm and follow these instructions:
- Instead of cutting all the means of communications, I have decided to disconnect them or turn them off to save your company‘s property.
- The amount of $10,000 dollars tendered as an offer for your cooperation + camcorder video camera valued at $1,200 after being used for this mission + all my belongings left at the hotel.
- The English version of my leaflet.
- The real leaflet in Vietnamese
- Letter to explain this mission.
This envelope contains $10,000.00 (ten thousand U.S. dollars) (P51).
Thira‘s reading this note was proved by his testimony, “There was a note on the envelope indicating that it was the U.S. dollar money” (P90-N5).
Then, he had a quick look inside the envelope, paid no attention to the letter, and did not take it out of the envelope to read. This could be proved by his testimony, “After I opened the envelope handed by the accused and looked inside it cursorily,” (P90-N5) and “I didn’t pay attention to the letter” (P91-N12).
Thira, after one-year rehearsal, could not distinguish the different meanings of verb plunge in an English test that I checked with him. He could not read and pronounce it correctly. U.S. consul Jeffrey did confirm this issue before the Rayong Court though he would not be at witness’s stand.
–Luechai did not see my letter (P79-N14). If Thira had read it and thought that the letter was a source of threat, he must have shown it to Luechai to prove it and Luechai had to read it to judge it.
-When I asked Mrs. Suthathif “Did anybody mention the threat from the letter at Banchang Police Station?” she replied, “I cannot recall!” (P85-N4).
-When I added, “Did you see any threat from the letter?” She anwered, “No. There were no wordings in the said letter which implied any action forced upon the pilot of the aircraft…without intimidation of any kind (P87-N7).
-On the contrary, Suthathif testified that “Thira told me that the accused was very nice to him. He used no threat, no force, only begging for help. Being afraid of losing his job and family, Thira had to change story. And he was very sorry” (P87-N13).
-Even pilot Thira admitted before Prachuap Court that “the accused talked to me politely all the time until heading back to Thailand (P91-N26).
On 13 October 2003 hearing, the new judges, Pairut Nunpradej and Chatree Luangruang, refused to let witness Suthathif testify the second time. The one who suggested this might be prosecutor Surasak. He did hear her true testimony and was afraid to let the new judges hear the truth. She was a translator and interpreter by the request of Deputy Inspector Somchai of Banchang Police Station on 18 November 2000. They rejected her with a reason that she was the prosecutor witness on 18 July 2001 hearing and my lawyer and I had cross-examined her already. She was summoned to Rayong Court again this time with the approval of former judge Prathakchai Thanachaisawat due to my complaint: “Judge Prathakchai did not record some very important points of her testimony such as “Thira changed story”, “I used no threat, no force, only begging for help” in the statement recorded in court document: “Thira told me and the accused that although the accused was very nice to him on board and used no threat, no force, only begging for help. But Thira was afraid of losing his job and family, he needed to conduct the accused to the airport security guard after landing at Utapao, and he had to change story at Banchang Police Station later. Thira said that he couldn’t help him and he was very sorry” (P87-N13). (Words printed in italics and bold were omitted in police translator’s testimony by judge Prathakchai.)
And “My husband got upset when they changed story because we are justice defenders. Please help me calm him down” instead of “while the police were making charges against the defendant, my husband seemed to be dissatisfied…” (P87-N12).
After a long argument, judge Pairut agreed to let Mrs. Suthathif confirm these omitted important points before him, but he did not record them in the court paper! U.S. consul Jeffrey, other U.S. consul, his Thai assistant, AP (Associated Press) reporter and some Thai journalists besides my 30 supporters from abroad attending the hearing witnessed this argument and heard these facts.
When prosecutor Surasak Pransilpa asked me that “Among these major witnesses (Instructor Thira, translator Suthathif, Captain pilot Luechai, Expert Chaisak, Mrs. Makawadee, Police Captain Suvit, Police Lieutenant Choompol, and Police Major Dosadee), you stated that only Mrs. Suthathif told the truth and all others told the lies?” I said “Yes.” They all perjured (lied under oath) about a threat from the letter, even the court indictment! Why? The court indictment must be based on the police report but the police report on 18 November 2000 did not mention the letter and the crash threat. The police report they had and kept for this case was the only one and the third one, because they had destroyed the two previous reports, the first one made during the Utapao Base’s investigation from 7:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on 17 November 2000, and the second one made during the Banchang Police Station’s investigation from 12:00 to 3:30 a.m. on 18 November 2000. Luechai and Choompol claimed that they did not record these investigations (!), especially the second one. After the second investigation ended at 3:30 a.m., captain pilot Luechai, who escorted me and Thira from Utapao Base to Banchang Police Station, got out of the investigation room and told me before he left for Utapao, “The police cannot lock you up because, according to pilot Thira‘s testimony, you committed no crime.” The third and official report made at noon time on 18 November 2000 had 475 Thai words (or 544 English words of the translation) did not have any words as letter and crash. The first part of its allegation (P55-N1) was a copy of Article 309 in Thai penal code, and the second part of its allegation was the abstract and vague allegation: “If his instructions were not obeyed, such disobedience may cost the pilot the his life” (P56-N3). Where was the crash threat from the letter? Wasn’t it enough evidence to prove that the crash threat was a fabrication of Chaisak and Foreign Affairs’ officials? The court indictment did not base its charge and facts on the police report (even it was already a fabricated one), but based on the late fabrication of Mr. Chaisak and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
Among 8 major witnesses, 1 witness told the truth. The proportion of truth-lie is 1/8 or 1 v.s 7 is the most amazing and quite a sad figure. It was not easy to find a person who, after months of being harassed by the police, having trouble with job, still was so courageous, so upright and so steadfast in her belief and ideal of a justice defender by telling, repeating the truth! In this world, it would be fairly easy to find thousands of people who were ready to lie under oath to defend themselves, their family, or their band, but it was really difficult to find people who were willing to risk their lives to defend justice and the truth for a stranger with whom they did not have any relationship in serious cases like mine whereas they themselves had been under permanent police’s threats. I was lucky to have such a justice defender in my case because I was just serving a just cause, and God and Buddha…had sent her to protect a just and upright one from the wicked conspiracy.
Captain pilot Luechai did not care about the honor of the Kingdom’s officer when he lied by saying that he did not remember stating that “The police cannot lock you up, because, according to pilot Thira’s testimony, you committed no crime.” Pitlom Salamat, who already wrote an affidavit to confirm that the on-duty police bought razor, nail cutter… for me, did reserve a female room for me and did change a new whole mosquito net according to my request, free of charge, but he refused to be the witness before the court because he was afraid that he would be punished in revenge. If there were many good people like justice defender Suthathif, the world would not be like hell nowadays.
Prosecutor Surasak also questioned “How can you have money to do your mission? Any people gave it to you?” He would like to find my accomplices if I had received financial support from others! He did not know that most of the patriotic, peace-loving, justice-defending people were my accomplices, including President Ronald Reagan, many U.S. senators, mayors… because they had supported my just cause with resolutions, hero welcome. A man, who received a bachelor degree, a master degree and was a Ph.D. candidate in an American university since 1990, could not make and have twenty or thirty thousand U.S. dollars?! Even trash-picking workers in the U.S. could have more than that amount of money. I would show him some evidences in the 25 December 2003 hearing. I did not only have money to take care of my mission but I also had money to help others, to donate to charities, and this generosity had been mentioned in the U.S. press. Some examples: “But friends describe him as a courageous patriot and generous spirit who has donated thousands of dollars to Vietnamese refugees stuck in fetid camps” (“Anti-communist’s Goal Was Revolution in Vietnam,” San Jose Mercury News, by Ken McLaughlin, Sunday September 20th, 1992). “When we were in school and we’d have parties, we would run out of money. He’d show up and throw $500.00 U.S. dollars on the table” (Vietnam’s James Bond Draw Admiration,” Times, by Claudia Kolker, Times Staff writer). “Mr. Ly Tong was very generous…He wrote a will, bequeathing his goods to the poor orphans of Vietnam,” (“The Last Action Hero,” CityPaper.net, by Christopher McDougall, March 11-18, 1999).
- The Charge Of Seizing Or Taking Over The Control Of The Aircraft During The Flight
- Training Aircraft v.s Charter Aircraft
First of all, the airplane belonging to the “Civil Aviation Training Institute” was a training aircraft as the school title indicated and it was different from the charter aircraft which was mistakenly identified by the press due to police purposeful disinformation. The intentional misuse of terminology “charter” displayed the murky scam of conspiracy ringleader. On a charter aircraft, everybody was passenger besides the pilots. To commandeer the aircraft, he/she must use violence or threat to force the pilot to fly according to his/her command. On the contrary, on the training aircraft, the student pilot was the one who started the engine, taxied, took off and flew the aircraft. Even the freshman student pilot would have to do all those things let alone a 5000-hour experienced pilot like me because the ground school was for aviation theory while flying was for navigation practice. The student had to do from A to Z in flight training. The instructor only sat by his side to observe, to instruct, or to perform some new maneuvers to show the student how to do them. So, I was already in control of the aircraft. In this 7-hour mission on 17 November 2000, I was the one who flew six and a half hours while my instructor helped me with flying only thirty minutes at my request when I was preoccupied with dropping the leaflets and videotaping Saigon and Tay Ninh, and when we landed at Utapao airport (P90-N6, 8, 9, 10). I also rented the aircraft, paying in advance for the aircraft and the instructor service; that meant I was temporarily the owner, the master of the aircraft. So the charge of taking over the aircraft during the flight was baseless, absurd, and ill-considered from the technical point of view.
I could give some examples about “Instructor pilots are flyers who rarely fly! Because flying is the job of their student” by using some excerpts from “Instructor Roulette” by Jay Hopkin in “Flying” on August 2001:
- a. Low Currency: “What was really disturbing to me was that my instructor hadn’t landed an airplane for several months. He related this to me because he obviously felt that he had to give an explanation for the more than poor landing he had performed” (page 66)
- Unprofessional: “…the CFI (Commercial Flying Instructor) had not said one word since we took off. I figured out that maybe he was just seeing what I was capable of. HE WAS ASLEEP! THE CFI WAS SLEEPING! I couldn’t believe it. I was paying for instruction and the safety of having an instructor on board and this is what I got” (page 68).
- Proofs Of My Controlling The Aircraft Since The Beginning
Thira Confirmed My Argument Through His Contradictory Testimony
Thira testified that “I took the right seat, the accused, the left seat. The accused took off and flew the aircraft under my supervision” (P90-N1). Then, “During the time he gave the document to me, the accused controlled the aircraft to the right and lower…” (P90-N2) and “I tried to take back the control of the aircraft and steer it toward the right direction three times but the accused pushed my hand off” (P90- N3). Thira also admitted that he only flew three times at my request while dropping leaflets and landing at Utapao airbase (P90-N6, 8, 9). So, I was already in control of the aircraft since the beginning and almost the whole time: 6 hours and a half over 7 hours! He did not take back the control three times because Luechai testified that, “Thira intended to take back the control of the aircraft himself but he saw that it might be dangerous if he did not let the accused control the aircraft” (P78-N2).
In fact, what happened at that time? When I busied myself with making a phone call back to the U.S., I asked Thira to fly the aircraft. He slowly turned the aircraft left toward Utapao airport. When I recognized this, I pleaded him, “My friend, please keep the heading toward Vietnam.” Then, he turned the aircraft to my planned direction.
That was it. That was the only time he tried to go his way. All of Thira’s above testimony proved that I did not seize or take over the control of the aircraft during the flight.
- The Hijack
- Two Major Elements
To charge with hijack, two major elements must be present according to Tokyo Convention 1963, Hague Convention 1970, and Montreal Convention 1971 about hijacking: To take over the control of the aircraft and a true threat.
But, as discussed above, there were only false threats: with false knife and with false crash. False knife because Police Lieutenant Choompol stealthily put a knife in the evidence ten (10) days later, and false crash because the court indictment based on a letter that Thira did not read on the aircraft. The letter had no threat implication as being proved above and the crash was a product fabricated later by Chaisak. There was false taking over of the control of the aircraft, too, because I was in control since the beginning according to normal flying procedures and rules as Thira’s testimony had proved it, as well as the excerpt, “Instructors are flyers who rarely fly because flying is the job of their students.”
- What If I Intended To Hijack The Aircraft?
If I intended to hijack an aircraft, I should carry weapon along, not a bag of money. I should take Thira’s money as other hijackers usually did, instead of rewarding him 10,000 (ten thousand) dollars in cash and other expensive gifts and five extra thousand dollars sent later to him from the U.S. The total value was worth his two-year salary! If I forced him to go to Vietnam with me, why shouldn’t I force him to land elsewhere? If I did something wrong as being charged or even if I knew beforehand the true face of the legal system here, I’d better landed at a remote area and walked away instead of landing back openly at Utapao airbase. Thira did confirm this reasoning in his testimony, “The accused could control the aircraft to land anywhere he wanted”, (P91-N24).
- The Three Other Charges: Violation Of Aviation Acts, Violation of Immigration Acts, And Flying The Aircraft Out Of The Kingdom And Traveling Out Of The Kingdom Illegally
I understood that everybody must obey the laws of the host country. However, I also believe that each case of law violation must be judged in accordance with its purpose.
The laws should be used to discern between the virtuous and evil, the right and wrong, the good and bad, the friend and enemy, the saviour and criminal. Violation for the purpose of narcotic, weapon trafficking and treason cannot be equated with that for the purpose of helping the oppressed. A cop killing a robber to defend the laws couldn’t be equated with a robber killing a cop to violate the laws. My purpose was noble, my means was peaceful: using persuasion, explanation, and reward to win the voluntary help and cooperation of my instructor. This argument was confirmed and proved by the Court Indictment with the sentence: “The defendant used $10,000.00 (ten thousand) U.S. dollars, one video camera…as a reward to influence the disadvantageous person to join and cooperate…” I dropped leaflets to wake people up to take control of their destinies, and to support the just cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights. Laws must be based on the precedent as a guidance to judge, and local laws must suit the international laws when the country was to join the United Nations, to be a member of its related organizations.
- The Prevailing Authority Of International Laws
On 14 January 2000, Fidel Castro, the Cuba’s President, used Cuban laws to sue me before the United Nations (UN), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), charging me of violating its Aviation Acts, Immigration Acts, and Flying The Aircraft In And Out Of Cuba Illegally, in my 1 January 2000 mission. The UN and the ICC rejected his claim with the reason that I committed only Civil Disobedience, not Criminal Offense. This decision demonstrated that the International Laws prevailed the Local Laws and were used to judge in cases where there was a contradiction between International Laws and Local Laws. Thailand already joined the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) of the United Nations as Cuba did; therefore, Thailand could charge me of Civil Disobedience only.
- Thailand’s Laws
Thai laws also supported this decision of the UN and the ICC.
- a. Section 4 of Aviation Act BE2497 (A.D. 1954) of Thailand stipulated that: “The commission of an offense in any Thai vessel or aeroplane shall be deemed as being committed within the kingdom, irrespective of the place in where such Thai vessel or aeroplane may be” (P93-n4). Since taking off until landing at Thai airport, I never landed in any foreign countries; never got out of the plane; that meant, I completely stayed in Thai territory the whole time during my mission. Therefore, I did not violate these three Acts. So, why was I tried for these three violations which were applied to punish illegal movements from Thai territory to other country‘s territory or in reverse in the following cases?
* To steal Thai aircraft to sell to other country, or to surrender to the enemy by those who committed treason or aircraft theft.
* To use aircraft to smuggle drug or weapon between Thailand and other countries.
In my case, I rented an airplane and paid in advance for the use of the aircraft and the service of the instructor; that meant, I was a temporary owner. After accomplishing my mission, I flew it back to Thailand safe and sound, causing no damage whatsoever. My mission did not harm Thailand but helps it live in peace, security, and stability instead, if my mission contributed to the ultimate objective: people of Vietnam would rise up and overthrow the communist dictatorship and establish a democratic and free Vietnam in the future.
- b. Section 90, chapter 7 (Concurrence of Offenses) of Penal Code of Thailand stipulated that: “Whenever one and the same act is an offense violating several provisions of the law, the provision prescribing the severest punishment shall be applied to inflict the punishment upon the offender” (P93-N1). I did only one and the same act: flying the aircraft out of and back to Thailand. Among four allegations: “Hijack, Violation of Aviation Acts, Violation of Immigration Acts, and Flying Out Of The Kingdom And Traveling Out Of The Kingdom Illegally,” hijack belongs to provision prescribing the severest punishment. Therefore, besides hijack, charging me of other three allegations belonging to provision prescribing slighter punishments was illogical violating section 90.
In conclusion, not only International Laws but also Thai Laws confirmed that I should not be accused of these three criminal offenses because I committed only civil disobedience.
Precedents were decisions or verdicts of the previous cases that could be used as reason or example for similar cases at a later time.
- The First Precedent: Havana Mission
In Havana mission on 1 January 2000, I flew a U.S. training aircraft from Florida to Havana, Cuba, dropped leaflets to appeal Cuban people to rise up against the “old dinosaur” Fidel Castro, and flew back to Florida, U.S. In Saigon II mission on 17 November 2000, I flew a Thai training aircraft from Hua Hin to Saigon, Vietnam, dropped leaflets to encourage my people to overthrow the Red Mafia Boss in Hanoi, Vietnam, and flew back to Utapao, Thailand. These two missions were completely alike. In the Havana mission, I was charged of Civil Disobedience by the United States and the United Nations, but no punishment was applied.
I volunteered to surrender my pilot license to FAA (Federal Aviation Agency), and I was commended by many U.S. Senators, Mayors, Councilmen and anti-communist and Cuban communities and organizations with resolutions and hero welcome. So, Thailand should charge me of Civil Disobedience as the United Nations, United States, and the International Criminal Court did.
- b. The Second Precedent: Thai-Laos Resistance Group’s Raid
In July 2000, a group of Thai-Laos resistance suddenly attacked a Laos border post, causing casualties and damage, then withdrew back to Thai territory.
They all were arrested and put in jail. In a Ubon court hearing in March 2002, Thai judges acquitted all 16 resistants with the reason that: This resistance group did not use weapon to commit criminal crime. Their activity was revolutionary against the Lao communist junta in power. In my case, I had no weapon, did not commit any criminal offense, did not cause any damage to the airplane. I am a freedom fighter, a revolutionist, who has been fighting against the communist tyrannical regimes. My mission was more peaceful and my end was much nobler than theirs. Therefore, Rayong court should acquit me as the Ubon court did to them.
- c. The Third Precedent: Vietnamese Communist Incursion Into Thai Territory
In 1985 and 1987, Vietnamese communists raided border towns of Thailand, massacring hundreds of Thai soldiers and innocent people. Why didn’t Thailand use its Immigration Acts to punish Red Mafia Bosses in Hanoi and all the communist aggressors? On the contrary, it punished a freedom fighter who used peaceful means to accomplish a noble purpose. If there were no freedom fighters like me and no free countries like Great Britain, the United States, Australia… that had been fighting steadfastly against the Vietnamese communists, Vietnam would not have withdrawn from Cambodia and possibly would have invaded Thailand instead, and transformed this beautiful kingdom into a gigantic “re-education camp.” Probably, all the Thai officials, from the Prime Minister to Rayong court prosecutors and judges might have experienced the hardship in the “re-education camp.”
Fighting against the evil, the criminal powers, the terrorist states, the tyrants like Communist Vietnam was the duty and responsibility of all free-loving people and free countries.
- d. The Fourth Precedent: Soe Myint’s Hijack Case
In November 1990, Burmese student Soe Myint disguised a bar of soap as a bomb and forced Thai Airways, on its flight to Rangoon, to divert toward Calculta, India, with an aim at attracting the attention of and appealing the Free World to apply pressure on militarist juntas in Burma to free democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Soe Myint was to be let out on bail, had a free life, got married and worked as a journalist in India. Twelve years later, under the pressure of Burmese militarist, he was summoned to appear in Barasat Court on 2 July 2003. He was then acquitted with the reason that there were not enough evidences to charge him of intimidation and taking over control of the aircraft in flight. Since he had had no intention to harm the passengers and to damage the aircraft and due to his noble purpose, the witnesses, as well as the court, had great sympathy with and compassion on him.
In my case, I rented a training aircraft and paid in advance; that meant I was a temporary owner of the aircraft. I had no false weapon and used no false threat as Soe Myint did but I used explanation and reward to persuade pilot Thira. I was not a passenger like him but a pilot who was in control of the aircraft.
Nevertherless, my bail was rejected and my feet have been chained. I have been confined in a small cell together with serious convicted criminals. I have been threatened with death sentence. I have faced all of the above for the last three years because the conspiracy ringleaders fabricated allegations, fabricated evidences and condoned witnesses’ perjury to harm me, although my means was more peaceful and my purpose was much nobler than Soe Myint’s. I requested that I would be acquitted by Rayong Court as Soe Myint by Barasat Court.
In conclusion, I did not commit any criminal offenses but just a civil obedience. Without civil obedience – legal activities in the advanced and free countries – no society could be improved. Without revolution, no society could be changed for better. For human society is never perfect, it must be changed by revolution and improved by civil disobedience day by day. It is a must and a need. Without them, we still live in the darkness of the Middle Age, instead of the civilized, progressive and humanitarian society that some of us have enjoyed now.
I requested that Rayong Court judged me what the United Nations and United States did in my Havana mission, as Thai court did in the Lao-Thai resistance group case, or as the Indian court did in Soe Myint case; that means, I should be charged only of Civil Disobedience and acquitted.
My fight in court was not for my own, my self-interest, but for Justice. If I were to lose, the Free World would be defeated and the just cause would be harmed. I didn’t fight only for my people, my country, but also for Thai people, Thailand and Thai justice system.
Upon Mr Suvit Kamalvisit case, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared that “Many police are mafia types or closely associated with influential figures” and “I pledged to clean up the force with 5 years.” By this chance, I would like to request your favor of paying attention to my testimony and considering my case as a proof and evidence of an international conspiracy in order to help Thailand get rid of bad eggs to save Thai innocent people from prison and bring justice to my case.
The United States First Lady, Laura Bush, once stated: “Dr. King…shaped our laws, our values, our conscience, our history… American history is ‘unimaginable’ without him.” Her comments showed how far the United States and the leaders of the Free World had moved towards making civil rights progress national heritage and world heritage. And I, a freedom fighter, was not different from this human rights activist except that one was for his race and his people and the other for his country and the whole humankind So why was one praised and another condemned?
Big concepts such as: “Not intervening in the internal affairs of other countries; self determination; sovereignty; territorial integrity; each country has its own law…” were, in fact, to be abused to defend the sovereignty, the self-determination of political Mafia Bosses and gangs with their jungle laws in their internal affairs of exploiting and oppressing their own people. The United Nations and all the free-world superpowers, especially the United States, must take more responsibility in their roles of creating a real “New World Order” to replace this “New World Disorder,” in which every country must respect new international laws, must organize its government conforming to new international standards, in which no tyrants, no rogue nations, on behalf of national security, sovereignty…could survive and expand to violate the civil and political rights of their people, the people of other countries, as well as the peace and security of the whole humanity on this planet.
Rayong, Thailand, 5 November 2000
(P54-N2) means “on page 54 at line numbered 2 on the right or left margin”