Inquests

5 05 2013

Several inquests recent political deaths are continuing. Three recent reports on these caught PPT’s attention.

The first was at Prachatai a few days ago and is a report on the inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste victim Ampol Tangnopakul in May 2012. The inquest began in February 2013. This report recounts evidence provided by fellow lese majeste convict Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who provided great support to Ampol when in jail together.

Tanthawut’s testimony included details of overcrowding and work assignments that were beyond Ampol’s capacity as a sick and aged man. For example, he was assigned “to produce 5 kilograms of paper cups or about 2,500 cups each day.” However, he never reached the target.

He also commented on medical facilities and pointed out that the Bangkok Remand Prison has extremely limited medical capacity, with doctors visiting twice a week. Only “20 prisoners are allowed to go to the medical facility, and each prisoner is allowed to go there only once a week.” Ampol told Tanthawut that:

when he went to the medical facility for the first time, the doctors did not diagnose his illness, but gave him painkillers for his stomach pain. Only when he cried out the second time did the doctors examine him, but with some contemptuous remarks about his alleged offences to the monarchy.

His condition worsened and he was eventually sent to the Corrections Hospital on 4 May 2012, and died four days later.

The second report is about a “friendly fire” death of a soldier. Back in 2010, the BBC and other outlets reported a case of a soldier being killed by what seemed like “friendly fire.” The inquest found that “Private Narongrit Sala from the Second Battalion of the Ninth Infantry Division in Kanchanaburi was killed by a high-velocity bullet fired from one of the troops operating in the area [Don Muang]…” on 28 April 2010. A high-velocity bullet hit Narongrit at “his left elbow, travelled through to the skull and destroyed brain tissue…. The court concluded that the bullet was fired by a soldier operating in the area.”

MCOT reports that he “was fatally shot by a high-speed bullet which passed through his upper left eyebrow to the skull…. The bullet was fired from a military weapon.” There seems there was no doubt that Narongrit was killed by “friendly fire” as the inquest was concluded quickly with none of his relatives at the hearing and no “plaintiff and related military officials.”

The third report is of an inquest into the deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram. A senior police officer has testified to the court that “military personnel were acting suspiciously when he and his men investigated Pathumwanaram Temple, where 6 civilians were murdered during the crackdown on Redshirts protest on 19 May 2010.”

Pol. Lt. Col. Sutad Chaiprom explained that

… he and his bomb squad were sent to collect evidences at Pathumwanararm Temple … on the morning after the incident. He said he found a number of automatic rifles at the temple, but they were all clearly army-issued firearms, and the soldiers were already stationed inside the temple when his team arrived.

He provided examples of military interference with his investigation saying that when “his men requested a closer investigation at a pond inside the temple, but they were refused by the military officials.”


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