The mother of a conscript who was beaten to death at Vibhavadi Rangsit Military Camp in Surat Thani has said her son was punished because he woke up late, while the military is insisting that it will ensure justice in the case.
Heartbroken after her son's death, Renu Mhodrakee said yesterday her family was waiting for justice for her son Private Yuthinan Boonniam, who had been punished severely leading to his death for a trivial offence.
"I have been told that my son was punished just because he woke up late and failed to attend the morning line-up. I have heard that he had a conflict with another soldier, but he was never in any trouble during his time in the service until now," Renu said.
"My son was imprisoned on March 27, and then I met him again in the hospital on March 31 [Friday]. I really don't know what happened and I can't imagine what they did to my son during that time. I want justice for my son and I will not cremate his body until the case is concluded."
She said she had previously met Yuthinan on March 16 when he appeared healthy and happy. He was due to complete his service in October and return home to Surat Thani's Wiang Sa district.
Fourth Army Region commander Lt-General Piyawat Nakwanich said the Army had already set up a committee to investigate the case, adding that Yuthinan's family would be properly compensated.
"Right now we are preparing the proper funeral for Private Yuthinan to satisfy his family and then we will investigate the offence in this case to determine the culpability of all suspects. I promise they will be punished properly based on criminal and military law," Piyawat said.
Suspects already investigated
He said all suspects in the case were being held by authorities, with police already having investigated them.
Pol Maj-General Apichart Bunsrirote, commander of Surat Thani provincial police, said the Army had brought some conscripts who had been detained at the military prison to be questioned, adding that more than 10 witnesses had already been interrogated.
Apichart added that police were also investigating a conflict between Surat Thani teenagers and Yuthinan, adding that surveillance cameras at the prison would be examined.
"Right now we cannot disclose all details about the case, but we promise that we are investigating the evidence and witnesses to ensure justice for all sides," he said.
Maj-General Wichai Thassan-amontian, commander of the Military Circle 45, said some of the suspects in the case had already been punished and there was a committee to investigate violations of military rules.
Wichai said the Army would properly compensate the family according to official regulations. He added that life insurance and welfare compensation might not amount to a large sum of money because Yuthinan was not killed in action.
"This incident grieves some of his fellow draftees, but I am sure that their morale is still strong, and I would like to insist that military training in Vibhavadi Rangsit Millitary Camp is not violent," he said.
Piyawat also said violent punishment at the military base was hard to control, likening it to the brawling of students, which was unpredictable.
"I emphasis that this incident is not linked to the military conscription and the Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisa-ard also has a clear policy to stop such violence. The Army promises that we take good care of every draftee," he said.