Thai group demands death for rape-murder

Thai group demands death for rape-murder
A group of women gather outside the Paragon shopping mall in downtown Bangkok yesterday to call for mandatory death sentences for convicted rapists.

BANGKOK - A SMALL group of protesters, mostly women, rallied outside Siam Paragon mall in downtown Bangkok yesterday to call for mandatory death terms for men convicted of rape and murder.

Salita Phongsawas, who set up a Facebook page to garner support for the push, said leniency or commutation for the confession of a sex offender should not be granted.

She also believes people who actively assist in the carrying out of the crime, or those who did nothing to stop it, should face the same sentence as the perpetrator of the offence.

The outcry follows the recent rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl on an overnight train to Bangkok.

A 22-year-old State Railway of Thailand bed-preparer confessed to the crime, while a 19-year-old official has been charged with aiding his colleague.

Initially, there were calls on the Internet for people found guilty of rape and murder to be sentenced to death, but that was later extended to rape alone.

Salita said she had gathered more than 30,000 signatures from people who support this call.

She requires 50,000 before she can hand a petition to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) through former beauty queen Panadda Wongphudee, who has been vocal in supporting the call.

Yesterday's protesters, who were dressed in black, gathered briefly outside the shopping centre. A large number of police were deployed in anticipation of the gathering being bigger.

Siam Paragon did not permit the group to gather outside the venue, so the protesters later walking round nearby Siam Square and other areas gathering signatures.

The group said the petition would be handed to the NCPO at the Army Club yesterday afternoon, and volunteers from the group would launch an awareness campaign at schools in Bangkok starting next month.

Meanwhile, Institute of Forensic Medicine commander Pol Maj-General Dr Pornchai Suteerakune said the post-mortem results on the girl linked DNA found on the body to alleged killer Wanchai Saengkhao.

Pornchai said the victim's blood was also found on Wanchai's underwear.

The results were handed to Pran Buri police investigators in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Police are compiling an extensive report on the case and have a July 15 deadline, at which time public prosecutors will indict the offenders and they will face and immediate trial.

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