Sa Kaeo murder sparks debate over police transparency and leniency on teenage murderers

Photo via Facebook/ ข่าวเวิร์คพอยท์ 23

The murder of a Thai woman in the Isaan province of Sa Kaeo sparked a debate about the lenient punishment handed out to teenage murderers and raised concerns about the transparency of the Thai police.

The dead body of a 47 year old Thai woman named Buaphan Thansu was found in a pond near an abandoned petrol station in the Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo on January 12. Her husband, 54 year old Panya Kongsaenkham, was arrested as the main suspect after he confessed to the murder.

While Panya was in police custody awaiting further legal proceedings, a reporter from Channel 8, Natdanai Narath, released CCTV footage of the murder to the public. The footage absolved Panya of the murder and implicated five teenagers aged between 13 and 16, who physically assaulted Buaphan until she died.

The five teenagers were arrested and admitted to the murder. One of the youths is the son of a deputy inspector general at Aranyaprathet Police Station, the police station handling Buaphan’s case. Another is the son of an officer at the Sa Kaeo Provincial Immigration Office.

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Panya was later released. He told the media that he confessed to the murder under pressure from locals in the area. He insisted that no one forced or threatened him to confess to the murder.

After reporters asked why Panya could re-enact the murder if he did not commit it, he laughed before leaving the press conference in a pickup. Police reported that they sent Panya to his relatives in Surin province. Police added that Panya has disappeared since his release. No one has been able to contact him since then.

Teenage killers

Buaphan’s case sparked a debate on whether young offenders should receive the same punishment as adults because the details of how the teenagers killed Buaphan were very disturbing.

A leaked voice recording of the teenage killers talking to other friends was shared on social media. In the voice recording, the teenage killer, believed to be the police officer’s son, pushed Buaphan into the water until she drowned before dumping her body in the pond.

Locals also recounted several abusive behaviours of the teenagers, saying they disturbed people in the community when they gathered to drink alcohol and take kratom. They reportedly committed thefts and raped a 19 year old girl and their names were allegedly cleared by the police father.

The case extended beyond the juvenile offenders’ punishment, raising concerns about police procedures and investigation transparency. Many are inquisitive about what might have transpired with Panya if Channel 8 reporter Natdanai had not released the CCTV footage of kicking the woman to death.

Somprasong Yentuam, the Commander of the Provincial Police Region 2, insisted that the police remained unconvinced by Panya’s confession and had acquired the CCTV footage before the Channel 8 reporter. He maintained that the reporter could not access the footage without police permission.

Somprasong contended that even in the absence of CCTV footage, Panya would still have been released because the court would dismiss charges due to insufficient evidence supporting Panya’s statements. He emphasised that the officers investigated the case diligently and did not provide assistance to the teenage killers, despite their parents being officers.

Both police officers from the Immigration Bureau and Aranyaprathet Police Station were reassigned during the investigation. Somprasong stated that legal action would be taken if the investigation revealed any misuse of power on their part.


ORIGINAL STORY: Thai man wrongly arrested for wife’s death, CCTV exposes 5 teenage murderers (video)

Police arrested a Thai man who confessed to murdering his wife, only to later discover his innocence and identify five teenagers as the guilty perpetrators of the crime in the Isaan province of Sa Kaeo. Police discovered their error upon reviewing CCTV footage.

Aranyaprathet Police Station officers in Sa Kaeo were alerted to the discovery of a dead body in a pond near Sriaranyithai School and an abandoned petrol station in the Aranyaprathet district at 12pm on January 12.

The lifeless body of Buaphan Thansu, a 47 year old woman, was discovered submerged in a pond, lying face down. She was dressed in a sleeveless shirt and long black trousers, showing injuries to her head and face. Residents revealed Buaphan was battling with mental health issues and often roamed the area.

An initial autopsy revealed that Buaphan was murdered and died at least one day before her discovery. Her husband, 54 year old Panya Kongsaenkham, was arrested as the main suspect.

Panya confessed to officers that he and his wife were drunk and argued. Panya added that he hit his wife on the head with a chair until she died. Officers then took Panya to court for temporary detention before transferring him to the Sa Kaeo Provincial Prison.

Police later discovered that Panya was also mentally ill and provided a false confession statement to officers. He was not the murderer and was not involved in the death of his wife as he confessed. Officers then checked CCTV cameras near the crime scene and discovered that five teenagers were the murderers.

Officers witnessed footage of five teenagers physically assaulting Buaphan at around 10pm on January 10 until she lost consciousness. The teenagers were seen carrying Buaphan into their pickup truck and driving to Sriaranyithai School. They continued to assault the married woman at the school until she died and discarded her body in the pond.

The five suspects, aged between 13 to 16, were summoned for questioning and admitted to the murder. They claimed that Buaphan threw a bottle at them making them angry so they attacked her.

According to the police, the murderers were juveniles, so more detailed questioning would take place later with child specialists and child psychologists. Officers would question Panya again about why he confessed to the crime even though he was not involved.

One of the teenage suspects is reported to be the son of a police officer in the area, raising concerns about whether or not the police officer was involved in Panya’s confession.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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