Benny Moafi – still unshackled in Chiang Mai

James Austin Farrell renews his aquaintance with Benny Moafi and gets an update on what has happened since he covered Benny's story in March 2011.

By | Thu 14 Jun 2012

Benny Moafi at the Citylife office in Chiang Mai There’s never a dull day in Benny’s life and after my initial story ‘The Amazing Story of Benny Moafi: Unbreakable, Unshackled’ he’d call me now and again to tell me about one of his court cases or to say he was doing more television documentaries about his sometimes Hollywood-esque time in a Thai prison. Shawkshank Redemption is a fairly uneventful story compared to Benny’s wicked and wondrous tale of lies, greed and beating the shackles.

As Benny had only ever been to Chiang Mai once before it was quite a coincidence that he was actually just leaving Chiang Mai when I called. Glad to catch up he said he’d swing by the office and have a chat.

“Amazing,” he said, “that you called right now.”

“So what have you been doing lately,” I asked.

He explained that he was now the owner of a restaurant, part of a chain, though things had gone awry.

“I’m suing the chain,” he said, “it’s a big case now. The DSI [Department of Special Investigations] are involved…It’s crazy, it seems I have to fight for everything.”

He explained to me that he is not out to make trouble, or exploit the law, but he sees injustices everywhere around him, and having studied Thai law, and beaten corruption many times before, he feels he can use the law to win cases where he feels he has been wronged.

“They stopped my electricity because I didn’t pay the bill. They can’t do that. They were charging me 5 times more than the normal limit. So I am suing them.”

He said that now the restaurant is temporarily closed.

If you didn’t bother to read the link then you will need to know that Benny spent 9 plus years in a Thai jail for a crime he didn’t commit; he was arrested for a crime in which there was no evidence, and also a crime that he himself proved in time that many documents had been falsified to put him away. His arrest and prosecution has garnered much attention after Benny learned Thai in jail, and then got himself a degree in Thai law, and subsequently took many of the people involved in his arrest to court…and won. The story of how he was arrested and what happened to him in jail is nothing short of unbelievable.

He has always said to me that he’s not angry, he just wants justice.

“I want them to change my verdict to innocent,” he says. But having a court change a guilty verdict in Thailand is something that is virtually impossible.

“It’s never been done before,” he says, although Benny thinks he will receive his innocent verdict and is now in the process of going through the complicated court system and getting it.

Benny has met many people in the legal system, and many Thai citizens, who have sympathised with him and come to his aid. Benny is aware of the danger of upsetting so many officials, though with his case receiving so much public interest it has helped. After Benny stood outside parliament shackled and with a sign demanding “justice” he was approached by Thai television to state his case and he also caught the eye of people working within the legal system. “One judge apologised for what had happened to me,” he says, “Now I am suing 22 policemen who were involved in my arrest, one of them is a major general. The NACC (National Anti-Corruption Committee) is helping me, but they are quite slow.”

He tells me that the policeman who falsified documents in Benny’s case has now testified for Benny.

“He asked me for forgiveness,” Benny says, “he thinks he got bad karma. His wife left him, he had a bad accident, and now he’s trying to help me.”

But when I asked Benny how many policemen (Benny has over 200 cases against police, prison officials and lawyers) would go to jail he laughed and said, “Police don’t often go to jail.”

“They would love it if I just disappeared,” Benny says smiling, “they even sent the national security around to my house. They’re mad at me. But you know one of the three Iranian bombers had my phone number in his phone,” he says laughing again. “I don’t know how he had it, I didn’t know what to say.”

Benny also did more Thai TV in the time I haven’t seen him, another show on scapegoats that he has been featured on 3 times, along with 5 other national cases where scapegoats have been used. He is also working as a lawyer for foreigners in Thailand, having just been to Rayong for a case. He says he is dedicated to helping people who feel they have no line of defense and don’t understand Thai law. As he has said many times before, you can use the law in Thailand to your benefit, though many foreigners don’t do this through fear. Benny feels (and he has proved it) that corruption can be beat by using the system…but he had to spend almost a decade in jail and lose a few teeth in the process of proving this.

You can contact him if you require legal assistance.

081 3737 440