Santika pub owner not guilty, Appeals Court says | Bangkok Post: learning

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Santika pub owner not guilty, Appeals Court says

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The Appeals Court yesterday overruled the guilty verdict handed down by the Criminal Court against Santika pub owner Wisuk Setsawat on charges relating to dozens of deaths and injuries in a 2008 New Year countdown fire. 

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A survivor of the Santika fire on Dec 31, 2008, outside the South Criminal Court yesterday to hear the verdict on charges levelled at the pub's owner. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Court clears Santika publican

Boonchu faces jail, fine, compensation payout

POST REPORTERS

The Appeal Court yesterday acquitted the owner of the Santika Pub of all charges relating to dozens of deaths and injuries in a New Year countdown fire at his premises on Ekamai Road in Bangkok five years ago.

The court ruled Wisuk Setsawat, the owner, was not directly negligent and did not cause the fire.
The court ruled he was not responsible for allowing more than 500 people to enter the pub.

Despite being cleared of negligence charges, the court found Mr Wisuk had failed to attach a plan of the building showing the fire exits, had not placed signs showing the fire exits and had not installed enough emergency lights in accordance with the Building Control Act.

The Appeals Court on Tuesday overturned the lower court's decision convicting Santika pub owner Wisuk Setsawat, left, of negligence causing deaths and injuries, allowing him to walk free. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

The fire resulted from fireworks lit in front of a stage in the pub and they were the responsibility of Focus Light Sound System Co and its authorised director Boonchu Laoseenart.

The fireworks, which were designed to be fired off outdoors, were lit inside the pub. The fireworks hit the ceiling and caused the fire.

Two years ago, the Criminal Court had sentenced Mr Wisuk and Mr Boonchu to three years in jail, fined the company 20,000 baht and ordered Mr Boonchu and his company to pay 8.7 million baht in compensation for five people killed and severely injured in the fire.

The Criminal Court had acquitted three other executives of Mr Wisuk’s White and Brothers (2003) Co and singer Sarawut Ariya who was accused of lighting a firecracker in the pub. The prosecution appealed against the sentence in the singer’s case but the Appeal Court ruled that unedited video footage showed the singer had not lit fireworks, and acquitted him.

The Appeal Court upheld the three-year term on Mr Boonchu, the 20,000-baht fine on his company and the 8.7-million-baht compensation order on Mr Boonchu and the company.

Mr Boonchu successfully sought his release on 500,000 baht bail yesterday and will appeal to the Supreme Court.

In the pub fire on Dec 31, 2008, 67 people were killed and 103 were injured, 32 of them seriously.
Rattana sae Lim, 31, who was severely burnt in the fire and is now disabled, said she was disappointed and would file a petition with the Supreme Court. She said she was jobless and the horror of the blaze still haunted her every New Year’s Eve.

Malee Thanompanyarak, a relative of a person injured in the fire, said the relatives of all people who had suffered would petition the Supreme Court as they wanted the pub operator to share responsibility because he had hired the company to install fireworks in the pub.

Mr Wiset was also acquitted of violating the Building Control Act and the relatives considered the compensation figure was too small, Ms Malee said. Damaged parties filed 47 civil lawsuits to demand compensation from the pub operator and associates.

Ms Rattana alone has demanded 8 million baht.

She said the other side had offered 100,000 baht in compensation.

I live on Ekamai about a kilometer away from the old Santika site. The day after the fire I walked there and took this short video.

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Vocabulary:

accused: to be said to have done something wrong or committed a crime - ถูกกล่าวหา

acquit: to state officially that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of - ตัดสินให้พ้นโทษ

Act: a law passed by a country’s government - พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ

appeal: to make a request that a court change a decision of a lower court - ยื่นอุทธรณ์

Appeal Court (Court of Appeal) : a court that decides requests that a decision made by a lower court be changed - ศาลอุทธรณ์ 

associate: someone you work with, especially in a business - ผู้ที่มีความสัมพันธ์กัน (เช่น เพื่อน, ผู้ร่วมงาน, หุ้นส่วน)

authorised: given official permission to do something or for something to happen - ได้รับอนุญาต

bail: money that is given to a court when someone is allowed to stay out of prison until their trial. If they do not return for the trial, the court keeps the money  - เงินประกัน; การประกันตัว

blaze: a large fire that cause a lot of damage - เพลิง

ceiling: the top inside surface of a room - เพดาน

charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา

civil lawsuit: a case filed with a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาลแพ่ง

compensation: money that someone receives because something bad has happened to them - เงินชดเชย

convict: to prove in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime - พิสูจน์ว่าผิดกฎหมาย

Criminal Court: a court which hears criminal cases, i.e., cases where people are accused of breaking a law and where punishment involves going to jail. - ศาลอาญา

disabled: someone who has a condition, especially a physical one, that limits their activities in some way - คนพิการ

disappointed: unhappy because someone or something was not as good as you hoped or expected, or because something did not happen - ผิดหวัง

emergency: an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary - เหตุฉุกเฉิน

exit: a place for leaving a building or area; a way out of a building or area - ทางออก

figure: an amount of money - จำนวนเงิน

fine: an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law - ค่าปรับ

firecracker: a kind of firework that makes a lot of loud noise when it explodes - ประทัด

firework: an object that explodes when you light it and produces coloured lights and loud noise - ดอกไม้ไฟ, ดอกไม้เพลิง, พลุ

footage: film or video of a particular subject or event - ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ

haunt: to cause repeated trouble, suffering or anxiety - ทำให้กังวล, รบกวน

hire: to pay someone to work for you, especially for a short time - จ้าง

horror: a strong feeling of shock or fear caused by something extremely unpleasant - ความหวาดกลัว, ความขยะแขยง

in accordance with: following a rule or system; also in line with and consistent with - สอดคล้องกับ

injury: physical damage done to a person or a part of their body - อาการบาดเจ็บ

jail term: the length of time a person is required to spend in jail -

level: (to level a charge, accusation, etc.) to say publicly that somebody is to blame for something, especially a crime or a mistake - กล่าวหา, ฟ้องร้อง

negligent: not being careful or giving enough attention to people or things that are your responsibility - ละเลย,ไม่สนใจ

outdoor: outside, not inside a house or building - ข้างนอก, นอกบ้าน

overturn: to officially decide that a legal decision, etc. is not correct, and to make it no longer valid - ล้มล้าง

party: one of the people or groups of people involved in a situation, an official argument or arrangement - คู่กรณี

petition: an official document in which you ask a court to take legal action - คำร้องต่อศาล

premises: the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses - ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง

prosecution: the person or organisation that tries to prove in court that someone has committed a crime - อัยการ

publican: a person who owns or manages a pub - เจ้าของร้านเหล้า

relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง

release: allowing someone/something to go free - การปล่อย

responsible for: deserving to be blamed for something that has happened - มีความรับผิดชอบ

rule: (of a court or other group with similar authority) to make and announce a decision - ตัดสิน, พิพากษา, ชี้ขาด

sentence: (of a court of law) to officially state what someone's punishment will be - พิพากษา, ตัดสินลงโทษ

severely: very seriously - อย่างรุนแรง

stage: a raised area, usually in a theatre, etc. where actors, dancers, speakers etc. perform - เวที

suffer: to be badly affected by a very difficult or unpleasant situation - ประสบความลำบาก

supreme court: the highest court in a country - ศาลฎีกา, ศาลสูงสุด

survivor: someone who still exists after an event that could have killed or destroyed them - ผู้รอดชีวิต

uphold: to say that a decision by a lower court or a government agency is correct - พิพากษายืนตามคำตัดสินหรือวินิจฉัยของศาลชั้นต้น

verdict: a decision by a court of law - คำพิพากษา

violate: to do something that is against the law - ละเมิดกฏหมาย

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