Today the 7 police officers accused of the suffocation death caught on video of a suspect in custody at the Nakhon Sawan police station had their day in court. Pol Col Thitisan “Jo Ferrari” Utthanaphon admitted that he assaulted the suspect, but claimed his death was an accident and denied the strongest charges of murder and torture against him.
In fact, all 7 officers confessed or plead guilty to the charge of murder by means of torture, likely because a conviction is punishable by the death penalty. The case is being tried by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases and today marked the first official day of the trial.
A few of the men denied all charges levied against them while others confessed to a few of the lesser charges. Thitisan admitted guilt in the courtroom to the charges of malfeasance in office which is listed as an offence in Section 157 of the Criminal Code. He also confessed to charges of coercion, along with misuse of power causing injury to other people.
The public prosecutor has indicted all 7 officers on those charges. Evidence will be examined at future hearings, with the next one scheduled for 2 months from now, on January 19. The father of the victim who was suffocated to death requested to be added as a joint prosecutor trying the case, and as neither the defence lawyers nor the prosecutor objected, the court approved his request.
The high profile case has been gathering condemnation and outrage from the public since the video of the August 5 was leaked by a lawyer to social media. Viewers were appalled as many layers of plastic bags were placed over the suspects head while his hands were bound in what the police involved claimed was an attempt to get information about illegal drugs. The case also revealed the extreme wealth Thitisan had gathered as a relatively low-paid police officer.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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