Press Release: Civil Court to deliver verdict on case filed by Mrs. Boionruang Suthiraphan, mother of CPL Kittikorn, against the Royal Thai Army

Released on 13 December 2017

Press Release

Civil Court to deliver verdict on case filed by Mrs. Boionruang Suthiraphan,
mother of CPL Kittikorn,
against the Royal Thai Army.
The Corporal died of physical abuse
by wardens of the 25th Military Circle’s prison

Between 6-8 December 2017, witnesses in Case No. P 1131/2560 were present to be examined at the Civil Court in Bangkok. Mrs. Boionruang Suthiraphan, the plaintiff and mother of CPL Kittikorn, filed the case to demand compensation from the Royal Thai Army which should be held liable for the death of CPL Kittikorn. The army officer died of severe physical abuse committed by wardens of the 25th Military Circle’s prison in Surin on 20 February 2016.

On 6 – 7 December 2017, the plaintiff’s four examined witnesses were as follows: 1) an autopsy report and images of the body at the crime scene and while dissection was being performed on the deceased’s body at the Surin Hospital. It also included evidence given by the forensic doctor in the post mortem inquest. 2) a military officer who was part of an inquiry committee appointed to look into the death of CPL Kittikorn. 3) an officer from the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Region 3. and (4) the plaintiff in this case, Mrs. Boionruang, mother of the deceased. The examination could be summarized that, the deceased was subject to a confinement and guarded by wardens in the 25th Military Circle’s prison. During that time, he was subject to physical abuse by the wardens who claimed to have done that to restitute Corporal Kittikorn’s discipline and as a result, he died.

The offence was committed by military officers in the 25th Military Circle which reports to the Royal Thai Army, a defendant in this civil lawsuit. Therefore, the plaintiff has the right to take the defendant to the court invoking the Act on Liability for Wrongful Act of official B.E. 2539 (1996) for inflicting a fatal physical abuse on the deceased. The 25th Military Circle has later established an inquiry committee to conduct an investigation and to impose disciplinary sanction against the commander of the prison and concerned wardens. The case was also reported to the police requesting a criminal investigation against the perpetrators who were complicit in committing such deadly harm to the deceased. The inquiry officers have already submitted to the PACC the investigation report. According to evidence given by an officer from PACC Region 3, at present, PACC is reviewing concerned facts and has presented to the Court all evidence received from the inquiry officers of the Surin Police Sation.

Mrs. Boionruang, mother of the deceased, gave evidence to the Court that prior to his death, the deceased, the only child of hers. Apart from serving as a military officer, the deceased also ran a clothing stall and made confectionery for sale in spare time to generate additional income. He even planned to grow lemon grass for wholesale. After his passing, she has to live a very difficult life and all the businesses run by the deceased prior to his death had to shut themselves down as she is growing older and unable to look after them by herself. In addition, she has received warnings from people who wanted her to be more careful as she could be subject to some malicious acts. Because of such fear, she decided to discontinue running the businesses. This has made her life even more difficult.

On 8 December 2017, a defense witness, a deputy military prosecutor of the 25th Military Circle with authorization from the Royal Thai Army gave evidence to the Court. The examination could be summarized that, he was designated by the Royal Thai Army to ensure legal action was pursued as a result of the death of CPL Kittikorn. An inquiry has been conducted as a result and disciplinary actions have been levied against the perpetrators. According to his sources, even though the death of CPL Kittikorn could be attributed to the acts of military officers under the Royal Thai Army, but the officers had committed such fatal acts out of their personal reasons. There are no laws that allow military officers to commit such deprivation of the right to liberty, to life and to property of other person.

The post mortem inquest in this case was completed and the Court ruled on 26 July 2016 that “the deceased, CPL Kittikorn Suthiraphan died in the prison of the 25th Military Circle on 21 February 2016. As to the cause of death and relating circumstances, the deceased sustained severe head wounds, coupled with raptured stomach as a result of physical abuse committed by four military officers (names redacted) who were all complicit to cause him his death.” According to the autopsy report, brain hemorrhage was found with contused brain. In his chest cavity, two ribs were found broken with a bruise on his left lung. In his abdominal cavity found brown liquid amounting to around 200 milliliters with his ruptured stomach and a tiny bruise on the left lobe of the liver.

It is concluded in the autopsy report that the cause of death was severe head wound coupled with ruptured stomach as a result of physical abuse. The four military officers were found to have committed such act unlawfully causing CPL Kittikorn to die. In addition, since the four military officers were performing the duties of the wardens, they were supposed to maintain order in the prison and to ensure safety of unit and the persons held in custody there. But they were found to have collaborated with other military privates to intentionally inflict physical abuse on CPL Kittikorn including subjecting him to torture and cruel treatment. In addition, they intentionally refused to report to the doctor and their superior officers the injuries sustained by CPL Kittikorn. They even threatened and prevented other inmates from helping CPL Kittikorn and even ordered the other inmates to help inflict more physical abuse on CPL Kittikorn who had already laid down unconsciously until he succumbed to death.

As the witness examination is completed, the Court will read the verdict on 22 February 2018 at 09.00am at the Civil Court, Ratchadapisek Rd., Bangkok.

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