Updated: “Inadequate evidence of negligence”

30 10 2013

In an AFP report, the results of an inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul are set out. The impunity available for state officials is maintained.

The report states that the “court on Wednesday ruled out negligence in the treatment” of  for cancer and “who died in jail of cancer while serving a controversial sentence for defaming the monarchy.” It is added that the court “said there was insufficient evidence of negligence.”

The court ruled that “Ampon died due to the spread of liver cancer.” That is hardly news to anyone and is an insult to Ampol’s memory.

Despite the evidence of “[f]ellow prisoners had told the court that Ampon had not received enough food or health care while he was in jail…” the judge “concluded that his treatment was in line with other inmates.”

His family’s lawyer, Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, noted that “the prison hospital had inadequate staff and equipment.” Poonsuk added:

“He was bedridden for three days before he died. If the health care was up to standard, he should have been diagnosed earlier…”.

That point seems clear to all except the courts.

Update: A report at the Bangkok Post reminds readers that the evidence of negligence was hardly “inadequate”:

The court rejected testimony by Thantawut Taweewarodomkul, a lese majeste prisoner who shared the same living quarters with Ampon, and Kittiphum Juthasamit, a Phusing Hospital director, that improper treatment at the prison hospital and inadequate equipment at the correctional facility contributed to his death.

During the inquest which began seven months ago, Mr Thantawut told the court the prison authorities did not give Ampon enough food and restricted his meetings with doctors. Prison officials also abused him verbally because he was a lese majeste prisoner. The court said yesterday the authorities did not discriminate against Ampon.

Dr Kittiphum’s evidence that the “prison hospital should have done more” was rejected by the court: “the doctor’s opinion did not prove the prison’s hospital caused his death.”

Senior nurse Ratchanee Harnsomsakul, who was working at the hospital on the day of Ampol’s passing, said:

medical staff provided the inmate with the standard treatment…. However, she admitted the prison hospital was not properly equipped to treat cancer patients.

It seems that the courts continue to insist on punishing lese majeste, even in death.


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