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Family demands investigation after conscript found dead at army base

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The family of a young conscript that was found dead, hanging in a military base bathroom, is demanding an investigation claiming the 22 year old army private was physically assaulted during his training and he had no motive to commit suicide.

Pichawat Wiangnon was found hanged to death at Military Circle in northeastern province Roi Et. Officers at the base said Pichawat used a rope to hang himself in the bathroom, according to Thai media.

An initial autopsy reported no internal injuries. The family was not allowed to see the body and does not believe suicide is the cause of death. The body was sent to a facility in Bangkok for a second autopsy.

Army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae says the army will not protect wrongdoers and officers found guilty in a criminal investigation will face legal action.

“The army cannot deny responsibility when someone was found hanged in its jurisdiction. Those in charge will face disciplinary action.”

Prior to his death, Pichawat had failed to show up work and army officers found him in his hometown. He was “punished according to regulations” which involved public service tasks like farming, according to army deputy spokesperson Sirichan Ngathong.

Pichawat fled the base again. The army private’s mother, 47 year old Nooklai Boonwiset, said the atmosphere at the camp was hostile with numerous hazing incidents and her son feared for his life.

“He told me on the phone that he was pinned to the floor while his hair cut and hit in the back. Chili and salt were put on his back.”

She added that Pichawat had tuberculosis and would easily get exhausted. A doctor had even recommended Pichawat take a 6 month leave.

Army officers demanded Pichawat return to the base. The family complied with the military’s orders and brought Pichawat back to the base. The next day he was found dead.

Another conscript was recently reported dead. Sataporn Piadpad died while in a punishment cell at a military base in the Northeastern province of Phetchabun. While there have been rumours that the army private was beaten to death, the mother says her son died from heart failure. She says she will press charges on the Facebook user who spread the lies.

There is a long history of mysterious deaths and systemic hazing of conscripts whilst under the care of the Thai military. Read HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for more stories about beatings and mystery deaths of trainees.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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