Army holds 9 over cell death torture

Army holds 9 over cell death torture

Renu Modrakhee, mother of the dead trainee, lodged an official complaint with Surat Thani police (above) and was allowed on Wednesday to meet with the detained soldiers, who begged her to forgive them. (Bangkok Post file photo)

SURAT THANI – The military court at the 45th Military Circle approved arrest warrants Wednesday for nine soldiers suspected of being involved in the April 1 death of an army private who was allegedly beaten while in detention.

The suspects have already been detained.

Maj Gen Wichai Thasanamonthian, chief of the 45th Military Circle, said the court approved warrants for the arrests of SM1 Yanyong Samleemuang, SM1 Sanong Khamsithao, SM1 Chalermpong Nilsuwan, SM1 Porames Temyod, Pvt Sakrawut Polrak, Pvt Jakkraphan Khiewsawas, Pvt Phakphum Suebmas, Pvt Phuwadech Thanayuthaphum and Pvt Sitthichai Polyod.

A request for an arrest warrant for Sgt Suraches Phrommas, who is also suspected of involvement in events leading to the death of Pvt Yutthakinun Boonniam also known as Benz, was rejected. The court said this particular suspect doesn’t not pose a risk of meddling with witnesses or evidence in the investigation into this case, said Maj Gen Wichai.

The court instead asked police investigators to take Sgt Suraches to face charges without a warrant, Maj Gen Wichai said.

Pvt Yutthakinun, attached to the 45th Military Circle, was pronounced dead on Saturday morning at a hospital where he was treated for injuries following an assault that allegedly took place at a military prison at the Vibhavadi Rangsit military camp in Surat Thani.

Once the arrest warrants were granted Wednesday, the nine suspects were detained at the the 45th Military Circle. Five of them were immediately suspended from duty pending further investigation, said Maj Gen Wichai.

“The fact-finding committee formed by the 45th Military Circle has found that only five people were involved in the incident [leading to the death of Pvt Yutthakinun] while the rest were aware of what was happening and failed to make any attempt to stop it,” he said.

Wednesday afternoon, Renu Modrakhee, Pvt Yutthakinun’s mother, was allowed to meet all the detained suspects at the 45th Military Circle’s detention facility after she requested to do so.

The suspects prostrated themselves at the mother’s feet, who said she forgave them as she wept.

“I as the highest-ranking officer of the 45th Military Circle have to share this responsibility too,” said Maj Gen Wichai, who accompanied Ms Renu on her visit.

In a statement released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch, called on Thai authorities to promptly and independently investigate the death of the army conscript from apparent torture while detained in the military jail.

The statement said the government should also undertake a broader campaign to end the long-standing use of corporal punishment in the armed forces, that included prosecuting military commanders for serious offences by soldiers under their command, said the statement.

“Another army conscript dies from an apparent beating, yet Thai leaders don’t seem interested in addressing the problem,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government and the military should urgently act to end these brutal assaults and the culture of impunity that has meant no punishment for abusive soldiers and the officers ultimately responsible.”

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