Guilty Thai Army to pay dead soldier’s family 17 million baht

The Royal Thai Army yesterday was found guilty of gross negligence in the death of a trainee soldier by the Supreme Court. The court ordered the army to pay the family of the dead soldier 17 million baht in compensation.

Lt Sanan Thongdeenok drowned while participating in a royal guardsmen training program, an intense course known by its codename UKBT in 2015. Sanan was forced by drill instructors to swim back and forth in a pool a number of times and was stopped from taking a rest.

The Court heard that Sanan tried to grab the side of the swimming pool but a drill instructor kicked his hands away and whipped him with a cable. As a result, he sank to the bottom of the pool and drowned.

The Court also heard the wounds found on Sanan’s body were consistent with that of someone being struck by a whip. The prosecutors argued that drill instructors should understand the physical limits of every one of their recruits and, in this case, they failed.

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Pornpimol Mukkuntod, a lawyer for the Cross Cultural Foundation, announced that now the civil case has been concluded the family will be pursuing a criminal case.

“The trial will be held by a military court. The lawyers will write to the military tribunal and ask for a trial. Per procedures, usually, they wait for the result of the civil case first.”

Pornpimol said it is a rare victory in legal fights on behalf of army recruits and cadets who died from alleged mistreatment and violence at the hands of their commanding officers.

“We believe that this case could be a role model that can be used in future. The court wrote its verdict in detail about what is considered to be appropriate action and the duty of drill instructors and officers in charge. It describes how they must protect and take care of the soldiers.”

Sanan’s parents tried to sue the Royal Thai Army for damages in 2016. The military testified their son’s death was beyond anyone’s control.

But the judges concluded that Sanan’s death was a result of gross negligence on the part of the army officers in charge. The verdict was affirmed by the Appeal Court in 2019 and the Supreme Court yesterday.

Pornpimol said the court awarded Sanan’s family a total of 17 million baht in damages, including interests, to be paid by the Royal Thai Army. She added that the family is looking to pursue separate lawsuits against the individuals responsible for Sanan’s death as well.

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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