PHUKET TOWN: An angry crowd of about 50 people from Tambon Vichit, Ao Makham, gathered at Phuket Town police station on Thursday to complain about the alleged beating by police officers of a man living in the area. Yamarn Yukolthorn, a member of the Vichit Tambon Council (OrBorTor), who led the crowd, said that on Tuesday night Wisith Sarika, a taxi driver operating from the Cape Panwa Hotel, picked up a customer who wanted to go to a club in Phuket town. The following morning, Wisith’s brother Wirat received a call from Phuket Town Police Station, informing him that Wisith had been detained on a charge of drunk driving, and that he would appear in court three hours later. Wirat, Yamarn and a couple of relatives went to the police station, where they found Wisith in a cell. “He didn’t look good,” Wirat told the Gazette. “At first we thought that he was still drunk, but later, while we were waiting for the judge to deliver his verdict, he told us that he had a terrible stomach ache. “At 2 pm, Wisith was found guilty and ordered to pay a 1,000-baht fine. Ten minutes later he fell to the floor unconscious, so we called an ambulance,” Wirat said. Dr Suthep Pakamethawee of the Mission Hospital told the Gazette that when Wisith arrived at the hospital’s emergency room, he was still unconscious. There were large bruises in the area of his kidneys and a subsequent scan showed that he was suffering from a ruptured bladder, requiring immediate surgery. Dr Suthep said that since the operation Wisith’s condition has improved and he is now out of danger. He added that Wisith’s injuries were consistent with receiving violent blows, possibly in a car accident. Pol Lt Col Paween Pongsirin, Deputy Superintendent of Investigation at Phuket Town Police Station, told the Gazette that early on Wednesday morning police had been called to the scene of a minor accident on Thepkrasattri Rd. They found Wisith in his car, which had hit the sidewalk. As he was very drunk, he was taken into custody. Wisith, in his hospital bed, said he could not remember what had happened the previous night. His relatives, however, having seen that his car suffered only very light damage, concluded that he had been beaten up by police. A delegation of protesters met with representatives of the Investigation Division and the Patrol Division, including six officers accused of beating Wisith. The talks ended with the police agreeing to investigate the incident, said Lt Col Praween, though he added, “This was a very simple case of drunk-driving; why would our officers beat him up?”
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