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Civil Court Ratchada - Sanan Thongdeenok

Four prosecution witnesses examined by Civil Court Sanan Thongdeenok died during swimming test


Press Release Four prosecution witnesses examined by Civil Court: Sub Lt. Sanan Thongdeenok died during swimming test, as part of the Ultimate King’s own Bodyguard Team (UKBT), Year 11

On 6 June 2016, mother and wife of Sub.Lt. Sanan Thongdeenok filed the civil case no. Por. 2580 /2016 (2559) against the Royal Thai Army. They demand the compensation of the death of Sub.Lt. Sanan on 6 June 2015 as he died during the swimming training under Ultimate King’s own Bodyguard Team (UKBT) program.

During 13-15 June 2017, the Civil Court took evidence from the prosecution witnesses in the Black Case no. P2580/2559 between Mrs. Wan Thongdeenok, plaintiff no. 1, Miss Thanyarat Wannasathit, plaintiff no. 2 v the Royal Thai Army, defendant. The mother and wife of Sub Lt. Sanan Thongdeenok, who died while participating in the UKBT, Year11, is demanding compensation for the death. As part of the curriculum, a participant was required to have swimming test, under the training and supervision of officers under the Royal Thai Army. When the incidence happened, Sub Lt. Sanan was forced to swim back and forth in a swimming pool without any pause or rest for more than ten rounds. Overcome by fatigue, he became submerged under the water for a long time while the trainer and supervisor of the training failed to look after safety and welfare of the participant and did not provide prompt rescue.

Two prosecution witnesses were examined on 13 June 2017. One of them was a medical doctor of Veterans General Hospital who gave treatment to the deceased as he was on duty that day. Sub Lt. Sanan Thongdeenok was then admitted as an emergency case and he was brought there by a medic officer and his commander. At the initial diagnosis, no vital sign could be detected. The doctor then tried try to give resuscitation, applying endotracheal intubation and administering cardiac stimulant. They all failed to save his life. While the ET tube was applied, the doctor found a lot of liquid and food stuck in his trachea and larynx. According to the medical record at the initial admittance, it mentions that the deceased had been submerged for ten minutes.

On 14 June 2017, plaintiffs no 1 and 2, the mother and the wife of Sub Lt. Sanan, the deceased, gave evidence to the Court. It was heard that the deceased, while alive, was a military officer of the Royal Thai Army and was married to plaintiff no 2. During his day-off or public holidays, he would help with the dog breeding business of plaintiff no 2 and construction business of the mother, plaintiff no 2. All income from his military service and others had been used to make possible an education for the plaintiff’s children. With the death of Sub Lt. Sanan, both plaintiffs would be deprived of their benefactor.

Plaintiff no 2 recalled the incidence according to what she had heard from other participants in the course that on that day. Sub Lt. Sanan was to have a swimming test and he was not a competent swimmer, compared to other students of the course. As we were swimming, he was signaling to other students that he could no longer swim. He then asked for a permission from the trainer to get off the swimming pool, but his request was denied until he had completed the required rounds of swimming. He was forced to continue swimming and was hit by life vest. The trainer even got into the water to force him to swim. Meanwhile, he was trying to hold on to the trainer’s body in order to get afloat. But the trainer kept distancing himself from him and continued to force him to swim. Eventually, he could swim no more and just submerged in the pool. Plaintiff no 2 insisted that the death of Sub Lt. Sanan, her husband, could be attributed to the trainer who had let her husband be submerge for too long without giving any help.

On 15 June 2017, the plaintiffs’ attorney adduced evidence from a medical doctor from the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS), who was the person who had dissected the body and conducted forensic examination. The witness stated that he was part of the medical team of CIFS which conducted an autopsy of the body of Sub Lt. Sanan, after his body had already had an autopsy conducted by forensic doctors of the Police General Hospital. According to the autopsy, the doctor found  the deceased sustained bruises under his head skin, about 5X7 cm. It was caused by being hit with a blunt object. According to the medical record from the Veterans General Hospital and coupled with the thorough autopsy, it could be said that Sub Lt. Sanan had died from being submerged for longer than five minutes. It had induced his heart failure, hypoxia and bleeding in brain, liver, and kidneys. A normal person can signal to other persons when he is no longer able to swim any further.

During the prosecution witness examination, the plaintiffs expressed their wish to have more witnesses examined including other military officers who participated in the training course and a medic officer on duty that day. Prior to this, the Court had sent them subpoenas, but they had not received the them and had not turned up at the Court. The two plaintiffs’ attorney, therefore, pleaded to the Court asking for additional subpoenas to summon the two witnesses again. Three prosecution witnesses are slated to be examined on 14 and 15 November 2017 from 9:00-16:30 and two defendant witnesses on 16 November 2017 from 9:00- 16:30 at the Civil Court (Ratchadapisek Road, Bangkok)

Any interested persons are invited to attend the court’s hearings as per the dates and time. For more information, please check out https://crcfthailand.org/?s=ร้อยตรีสนาน.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Preeda Nakpew, attorney of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), phone 098-6222474