PHUKET: An Ubon Ratchathani businessman took his life yesterday after being summoned by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), but the local police chief doubts if the suicide was linked to the order.
The chief of Muang district police, Colonel Jumphol Suwanam, said Sarawuth Phoothornyothin, 59, shot himself in his home possibly because he was stressed out by several chronic diseases he had been suffering for several years.
“[The suicide] has probably nothing to do with the NCPO order summoning him,” he said.
Sarawuth was among a large number of people included in the 44th NCPO order yesterday and told to report to the Army auditorium in Thewes, Bangkok, between 10am and 12pm today.
Wanphen, Sarawuth’s wife, told police that her husband was complaining about feeling unwell last night, adding that he suffered chronic diabetes, high-blood pressure and bone disease.
In response to the incident, an NCPO spokesperson said in a statement that summoned people were not regarded as law violators, and that the desired goal was to reach an understanding with those summoned or readjust their attitudes to find a common ground so that long-term reconciliation was achieved.
Sarawuth had reportedly earlier posted anti-coup messages in the Pantip.com web board but had not openly taken part in street protests.
He was a leading businessman in Ubon Ratchathani in rice milling and printing but those businesses folded in the past decade and he ended owning a small lathe factory.
Meanwhile, the Thai Journalists Association yesterday issued a statement calling on undercover police to deter anti-coup protesters from the wearing green armbands issued to reporters working in the field.
TJA spokesman Manop Thip-osoth said a new armband would be designed jointly by the TJA and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association to make it more difficult to imitate and distinguish reporters more clearly from other people including protesters.
Manop was referring to the much-discussed arrest of a woman at an anti-coup really in front of the Terminal 21 in Asoke on Sunday. She was seen being forced by several men into a taxi, fuelling speculation that she might have been arrested by soldiers in plainclothes.
Images of another incident show one man wearing a journalist’s armband emerging from the crowd and snatching a woman, thought to be a protester.
Lumpini Police Station chief Colonel Chaiya Kongsup said the woman was brought to the station to calm her down and was later taken away by Army officers.
Deputy national police chief General Somyot Pumpanmuang said no police officers were seen wearing a journalist’s armband in Sunday’s operation.
He said police were willing to clarify the situation if media associations submitted a formal written enquiry.
A police source said two men and four women were detained in separate arrests in connection with anti-coup protests on Sunday at Lumpini Police Station before being handed over to the police’s Crime Suppression Division. No details about the woman were given and it is not known where she is.
The six other people arrested have been identified as Warin Thinnakorn, 71, Nusara Suksawaengboon, 48, Sunantha Puangsiri, 50, Mongkol Saengsuda, 43, Jiraporn Warapisit, 53 and Sumet Wirotchaiyun, 40.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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