Updated: Truth on trial, again

31 08 2014

A couple of days ago, it was reported that 36-year-old Surakrit Chaimongkol, a red shirt accused of murdering anti-democrat leader Suthin Tharatin, died in prison.

Suthin led groups of anti-democrats as they campaigned to bring down the elected government, eventually leading to the 22 May 2014 military coup. He was shot during these demonstrations, by unknown gunmen, as the anti-democrats disrupted voting in the 2014 election on 26 January.

Surakrit was arrested soon after the military coup, on 8 July, and has been in prison since then.

Surakrit’s death is reported in Khaosod with the Director of the Corrections Department Wittaya Suriyawong stating that “Surakrit had an asthma attack on 28 August. Although officials rushed him to hospital immediately, Mr. Surakrit died that evening…”.

Surakrit’s mother, Arie Chaimongkol, was immediately suspicious of the “cirucmstances of her son’s death.” She stated: “I don’t believe he died because of medical condition.” She claimed that the last time she saw her son he stated that he had been threatened and beaten.

Surakrit, who has been refused bail, “told her he was coerced by unidentified individuals in prison to confess about his actions and reveal the names of the people who commanded him to commit the alleged murder.”

Her suspicions must have been further heightened when Wittaya said: “Let me stress that he wasn’t harmed by anyone.” His claim was supported by “Sorasith Chongcharoen, director of Bangkok’s Remand Prison, [who] admitted that Mr. Surakrit had no previous history of asthma, but insisted that the suspect died of a medical condition and not because he was mistreated in any way.” He added: “During his time in prison, Mr. Surakrit had no problem with other inmates, and he was never harmed…”.

There are times when the repeated denial sounds more like an admission, especially when the deniers can’t get their stories straight.

The Bangkok Post has recently reported on an official autopsy. It says nothing of asthma. Rather, it says that Surakrit “died of gastrointestinal bleeding while in detention.”

A police forensic doctor also stated that there “were no signs of external injuries…” and that “[g]astrointestinal bleeding could be the result of ulcers or painkillers…”. The doctor said nothing about finding any evidence of these issues, suggesting that he is making it up.

Surakrit’s mother has a right to be very suspicious. She “believes her son may have died from internal injuries suffered in a beating.”

Update: Khaosod has a different take on the autopsy, quoting Salaktham Tojirakarn, a physician and son of a prominent red shirt leader, who said” the initial autopsy revealed a large amount of bleeding in Mr. Surakrit’s digestive system and some ‘bruises’ on his body, but stressed that it is too early to determine a clear cause of death.”


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