If any reader was suspicious about Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha’s death in military custody, it is now time to be more dubious still.
Officially, we are told by the Minister responsible for “Justice” General Paiboon Khumchaya that “the case is now closed.”
That means the public is left to ponder a lese majeste accusation that was never explained, detention in a military prison under circumstances that will never be explained and a death in military custody that will not be explained or investigated.
It may surprise some readers, but it is reasonable to observe that this is standard military operating practice. The military has the capacity to capture, detain, disappear, torture and murder with impunity. This has been a common operating procedure when dealing with the war in the South.
Prakrom was said to have been “found hanging in his cell with a shirt around his neck on Friday and died shortly after at the Corrections Department’s hospital…”. Some reports state that he was hanging from a bar. This despite the fact that it was earlier reported that “special wardens, made up of military officers and guards from the Corrections Department, has been appointed to take care of three suspects detained over in a high-profile lese majeste case,” and that the “wardens’ key responsibility is to ensure the three men’s well-being during detention…”, we can only be aghast that the “Justice” Minister and his flunkies state that Prakrom’s “cell had no windows and corrections officers could not see the inmate from the outside.”
The Military “Justice” Minister rejected criticisms of a cell: “There has been no problem. If there were any, we would know now.”
The General defended the procedure under the military dictatorship of using military detention and military courts and the military prison: “We need to keep the prison to expedite investigations. As we all see, high-profile cases have progressed very quickly. Let’s not look only at human rights. National interest should also be taken into consideration…”.
What this is code for is: “We need to keep the military prison because there’s no scrutiny. We can use torture and get confessions that way. This is why high-profile lese majeste cases have progressed very quickly. We have a 100% confession rate. Let’s not look only at human rights. We are a military dictatorship and rights have no meaning”.
The “Justice” Minister went on to explain that another caught up in this lese majeste case, a fortune teller who was loved by the generals and close to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, is not dead.
The General declared: “Mor Yong’s fine. I don’t understand what caused these rumours.” Oh Minister, you are not this much of a dope, surely. The rumors come from the death in military custody and your cover up. He did say that Suriyan’s blood pressure was high and this had caused him to me moved through two hospitals. The director-general of the Corrections Department claimed that Suriyan was faking illness.
Khaosod has a similar report on “Justice” Minister Paiboon’s statements to the media but adds this important note at the end of its report:
Note: A blanket ban has been issued on reporting this issue, apart from official announcements. Due to this, portions of this story have been self-censored.
This makes the cover-up official. We recently said Thailand is administered by thugs and scoundrels. We should have added that the thugs and scoundrels are also liars.
Update: Readers will be eager to know the police have stated that they will provide “full information regarding a recent high-profile lese majese case as well as on the death of a suspect during detention” on Wednesday. We at PPT can hardly wait. We would sincerely like to know the truth or at least the story concocted on these cases. We are also keen to know more about the death of Prakrom. But, then, wasn’t it the military and Department of Corrections who were in charge of this detainee when he died in a cell in a military camp? What will the police know? Even so, we can’t wait to see what has been cooked up.
Part of the claims made will have to do with competing statements about bars and no bars in the cell, barred windows and no windows, and the ability of guards to see inside the cell. All these points have been subject to contradictory statements that form part of an ill-disguised cover-up. In the report linked below, the Corrections boss stated: “We have adjusted a building of the battalion for use as the detention centre. We have bars installed there…”. That’s in the windowless version of the story?
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has added to the confused cover story. In stating that the “temporary detention centre was still needed, pointing out to the fact that the country is not in a normal situation yet.” He then reportedly stated that “Prakrom … was not the only suspect to have died during detention.” We assume he is talking of the same cells. If not, then he’s stating a fact: prisoners do die and disappear in police and military custody. Sometimes of natural causes, sometimes murdered, maybe due to poor conditions and sometimes following mistreatment such as failing to get medical support or as a result of injuries inflicted in custody.
Prawit did try to get the military off the hook by stating: “… although this detention facility was located inside a military base, it was the Corrections Department which was mainly in charge of the facility.” Sure. The Thai military just adores having others in charge of their stuff and facilities. Nice try Prawit.