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Court approves Thitisan custody extension, investigate further

Neill Fronde

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Photo via Royal Thai Police

As police in the Crime Suppression Division continue their investigation into Pol Col Thitisan “Jo Ferrari” Utthanaphon, the Nakhon Sawan court approved an extension to keep him in custody for 12 days. The Muang district police say they need time as they still have 10 witnesses to question.

In Thai law, an indictment must be made as quickly as possible, but for cases that need further investigation, an extension of 12 days can be requested up to 7 times, giving law enforcement a maximum of 84 days to compile their case against a suspect before legal proceedings.

Thitisan may be facing multiple charges including murder and torture for the death of a suspect in custody with a leaked video showing plastic bags placed over the suspect’s head and tying his arms behind his back as he suffocated as police wrestled with him. The disgraced officer denies any wrongdoing.

Pol Lt Thoranin Maswanna, who was considered Thitisan’s closest ally, turned himself in to Phetchaburi police yesterday and was transferred to Nakhon Sawan. An extension of his custody for 12 more days has also been filed and approved. Both men will be held until September 7 at least.

After surrendering in Chon Buri yesterday, Thitisan was interrogated late into the night Thursday and was given a chance to speak at a press conference in his defence, a move that drew widespread ire. When asked about the incriminating video that revealed the whole incident publicly, Thitisan graciously forgave the junior officer who recorded and leaked the video.

THE VICTIM

Meanwhile, more details have emerged of the case of 24 year old Jeerapong Thanapat, the suspect who was suffocated to death in the police station with 7 officers including Thitisan now in custody over the incident. Police say Jeerapong and his wife were arrested on August 4 after trying to sell crystal meth to a plainclothes officer in Muang district outside a convenience store.

The couple each had three 100 gramme bags of meth on them. One report said that Jeerapong’s phone had photos of a big drug stash so police searched his house, but did not turn up any illegal narcotics. The next day the couple was taken into custody for the aggressive interrogation by Thitisan that resulted in Jeerapong’s death around 1 pm according to the video’s timestamp. His wife was then released in exchange for her silence.

Thitisan said that the beating and suffocation was not an attempt at extortion and that he had no intention of killing the suspect, but was merely an interrogation technique to learn more about the impounded drugs and the supply chain.

After his death, an autopsy was written on August 6 stating Jeerapong had died of a drug overdose, with sources saying Thitisan had ordered that cause of death be listed. The issuing hospital claims it was only an initial report to allow the family to apply for a death certificate and a full autopsy result will be out next week with more exact details.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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