Soldier, 21, dies in second case linked to beating in Thai army camp

Investigation focuses on 40-minute period when soldiers were outside military camp.

A SECOND young soldier from Vibhavadi Rangsit Camp in Surat Thani has died from an apparent beating following the violent death of a conscript at the same camp in April. Private Noppadol Worakitphan, 21, was found dead from internal injuries and bleeding just after arriving at his home on Saturday night.

Security footage suggests that whatever happened to him had occurred outside of the military camp. His death follows that of Private Yuthkinan Boonniam, who died after allegedly being beaten at the camp in April.

Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday that the commander-in-chief, General Chalermchai Sittisart, had been made aware of the latest case and had ordered a full investigation into Noppadol's death.

A preliminary autopsy revealed that Noppadol's cause of death was from internal bleeding, a ruptured heart and lung, and damaged spleen. His body was sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Police General Hospital for a further autopsy, which would be concluded within two weeks.

Winthai said that as of now the investigation was ongoing, but so far there was no indication of any violation of army rules, especially since CCTV footage showed that Noppadol looked well while he waited for a bus outside the camp.

"From the surveillance camera, we can see that there was no suspicious behaviour or any violent punishment. There was only the mass daily exercise at 7.20pm. However, the officers are finding more evidence of what happened after the exercise session, when the conscripts had free time to take a shower and rest," he said.

"The investigation also has to include the period when Private Noppadol was outside of the military camp. We have to wait for the final conclusions of the army and police."

During the investigation, Military Circle 45 commander Maj-General Wichai Thasanamonthian summoned all soldiers related to the case for interrogation in front of Noppadol's family. Winthai assured them that if any soldier was found guilty, he would be punished swiftly under both the Criminal Code and military law.

Noppadol's mother, Malaiporn Worakitphan, said that after watching the CCTV footage and listening to the interrogation of other soldiers, she no longer suspected that her son had received harsh punishment at the military camp.

However, she said she still wondered what occurred during the 40-minute period when Noppadol went outside the camp with fellow soldiers and they could not be seen on surveillance cameras.