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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Missing Thai lawyer 'harassed'
Thai Muslims pray at a mosque in Pattani province, southern Thailand - archive picture
The lawyer had criticised security forces' actions in the Muslim south
A prominent Thai human rights lawyer feared for his life before he went missing over a year ago, his wife has told a Bangkok court.

Somchai Neelaphaijit feared that his exposure of police torture of Muslims in Thailand's troubled south made him a target, his wife Angkana said.

She was speaking at the trial of five policemen accused of abducting him.

Human rights groups fear he fell foul of security forces unhappy at his criticism of their methods.

Angkana Neelaphaijit also said her husband had been harassed because of his work.

"My husband told me before he was abducted that his life was in danger because he exposed the police torture of the Muslim suspects," she said.

The 52-year-old lawyer, who was last seen in public on 12 March 2004, was a vocal critic of the Thai security services' handling of the wave of violence which has hit the south, where more than 800 people have been killed since January 2004.

He was also defending two of four Thai Muslims who were accused of planning attacks for Jemaah Islamiah, a militant Islamic group linked to the Bali and other bombings.

The four were acquitted this year.

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