Documents in the James Case Released

Legal documents behind the 15 year prison sentence of the 44 year old Dane James Christensen for arson has now been officially translated and in a limited number released to the Press by James Christensen’s sister. The documents indicate that the lawyers currently working on his appeal do indeed have material to build their case on.
The documents are the police report on the statements made by James upon his arrest on the 18 February, the public prosecutors complaint and the verdict reached by the court in Langsuan, Chumporn province on 15 August 2006.
In the report from the police inquiry on 18 February, James denies any involvement in the fire, which is said to have been started at about 4 am on February 15.
James acknowledges, however, according to the report, that the burner which he is being shown at the station is his. He cannot say for sure if the gas tanks are his, though.
It does not say in the report that he is confronted with any other evidence. In particular there is no mentioning of any shoe prints or sandals as claimed in later documents.
It is a slightly confusing detail that when the public prosecutor files his complaint with the court, the fire does no longer take place on 15 February 2005 at 4:00 in the early morning but some eighteen hours later on 15 February 2005 before midnight – which would be around 22:00 to 23:30.
This time of the fire is repeated in the verdict, most likely having simply been copied from the prosecutor’s complaint. There is no doubt that in reality the fire did take place in the early hours of the morning on the 15 February.
The verdict places great importance on the grudge, which James admits he had against the fighting cock farmer for killing his dogs with poison. This, it says, is his motivation for buying the gas tanks in a premeditated move to set the farmer’s house on fire. There is, on the other hand, very little mentioning in the verdict of the grudge, which the farmer has against James for not paying any compensation for his dead cocks, and for coming to his house the day before and complain angrily about the killing of his dogs.
No doubt the atmosphere between the two was at the time so bad, that if the municipality officials had actually started poisoning his dogs, James’ first idea would have been that the farmer had poisoned them. And if any bad thing should happen at the farm, the farmer would likewise immediately have thought of James and would have started looking for evidence to sustain this suspicion. In fact the grudge might have been so deep that it could have been a real temptation to produce evidence to help prove what in his mind was already so obvious.
In the verdict it also says that James in the court contradicts his statement made at the time of the arrest, but in fact only one statement is contradicted, because James was according to the inquiry report never questioned about the other issues.
It is also surprising to find within the same page of the verdict two different explanations as to how the sandals were retrieved and introduced as evidence and even a rapprochement why James had not provided the police with evidence that he does not use sandals size 10 but uses size 11. Nowhere is it questioned if anyone in or around the house could have made the alleged foot prints..
Finally, the court simply washes out James’ explanation why he bought the gas tanks. His explanation that he used the burner to warm up his house because he was nursing a sick dog is refuted on the grounds that “his testimony that he had purchased the gas to keep his dogs warm is peculiar and contrary to normal practice of people in general.”
Based on the documents received from the court, it will now take a few weeks for James’ lawyers to write their appeal and submit it to the court in Langsuan. Then the public prosecutor will be asked for a response to the appeal which he will be requested to submit within a specific number of days. These two documents together with the other papers in the case will then be sent up to Bangkok to be processed by the appeals cort.
At no point during the trial at the appeals court will there be a new hearing of witnesses or a reexamination of the evidence. Only material brought up and recorded in the documents during the trial at the provincial court will be considered at the appeals court. The court can, however, decide both on the question of guilty or not guilty and on the length of the sentence if the verdict of guilty should be upheld.
It is during the deliberations of the case in the appeals court that it is possible to request the release of James Christensen against the bail, which is currently being collected. The amount needed for his bail is estimated to be 400.000 baht in cash.
At the point of writing this report, 159.000 baht is still missing before this goal is reached. latest missing amount here.
If you are able to help reach the amount needed and secure the release of James Christensen from prison during the two to three years, which an appeal case can last, please donate your support here.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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