Thai police to reveal details on death of royal defamation suspect

Thai police to reveal details on death of royal defamation suspect
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Police will tomorrow provide full information regarding a recent high-profile lese majese case as well as on the death of a suspect during detention.

"We will hold a press conference and answer all questions," national police commissioner General Chakthip Chaichinda said yesterday.

Last Wednesday, Pol Major Prakrom Warunprapra, fortune-teller Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, better known as 'Mor Yong', and Jirawong Wattanathewaslip were publicly identified as lese majeste suspects.

On Friday night, Prakrom - who worked for the Technology Crime Suppression Division - was found hanging in his cell inside a temporary detention facility at the 11th Army Circle's Infantry Battalion in Bangkok, and pronounced dead at a hospital. "This case is closed," Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday, referring to Prakrom's death.

An autopsy shows Prakrom died of oxygen deprivation because of pressure marks around his neck during his detention, Corrections Department's director-general Vitaya Suriyawong said yesterday.

Vitaya said Prakrom's body had already been returned to his family. His relatives came to fetch his body at 8.30am yesterday. Paiboon explained that after Prakrom's body was found, a joint committee was called in to conduct an autopsy and issue a death certificate.

The committee included members of police, public prosecutors, administrative officials and forensic doctors. Paiboon said it was not always necessary to send the body to the Institute of Forensic Medicine for an autopsy.

Vitaya yesterday firmly dismissed rumours that Suriyan was also dead.

"No, he is still at the temporary detention facility. It's just that he was sent to an external hospital on October 22 for a CT scan," the senior official said. Wittaya said as the CT scan did not show any sign of abnormality, it was believed that Suriyan might have faked his symptoms.

"Officials were worried about his health because they found him with twisted lips, locked jaws, and blank facial expression. But after intensive checks, doctors have found nothing wrong in his brain," he explained.

Before his arrest, Suriyan had served as an adviser to a subcommittee responsible for holding activities for the "Bike for Mom" cycling event in August, as well as the "Bike for Dad" event scheduled for December. According to Chakthip, assistant national police commissioner Pol Lt-General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul and Central Investigation Bureau's chief Pol Lt-General Thitiraj Nonghanpitak will tomorrow be present at the press conference to give further information on the lese majeste case as well as Prakrom's death. Srivara heads the investigation team while Thitiraj is the deputy head.

Chakthip said Prakrom's death would not affect the ongoing investigation into the alleged lese majeste offence because investigators had already got complete statements from him. Asked about rumours that a senior police officer was involved in the lese majeste case, Chakthip said he had already received information but refused to elaborate.

He said police were now gathering evidence and the progress would determine whether arrest warrants would be issued. Following Prakrom's death during detention, some human rights activists have called for the cancellation of the temporary detention centre at the 11th Army Circle's Infantry Battalion.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said this temporary detention centre was still needed, pointing out to the fact that the country is not in a normal situation yet.

He also explained that although this detention facility was located inside a military base, it was the Corrections Department which was mainly in charge of the facility.

In response to comments that human-right activities spoke up against the temporary detention centre because of Prakrom's death, Prawit said Prakrom in fact was not the only suspect to have died during detention.

Vitaya said this temporary detention facility was in good conditions.

"We have adjusted a building of the battalion for use as the detention centre. We have bars installed there," he said.

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