B7m compo for boot camp death

The government has offered seven million baht compensation to the mother of Private Wichian Puaksom, who died after being beaten and tortured by a group of soldiers at a military camp in Cho Airong in Narathiwat in 2011.

The payment was offered as settlement for a lawsuit brought in the Civil Court in Ratchada last year by Prathuang Puaksom, a farmer and vendor in Songkhla province.

She sought 14 million baht in reparations for the loss of her son from three state agencies -- the Defence Ministry, the army and the Prime Minister's Office, which oversees the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

Mrs Prathuang was assisted by the Lawyers Council of Thailand and the Cross Cultural Foundation.

Her son Wichian died after being beaten and abused at the Narathiwat Ratchanakarin army camp by 13 low- and mid-ranked soldiers as punishment for disobeying orders and absconding from camp. 

New conscripts get their hair cut prior to training. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The young Songkhla native had asked to serve in the restive South out of a sense of duty in early May, 2011, after being drafted into the army.

He died in Narathiwat Provincial Hospital's intensive care unit on June 5 of multiple injuries, including acute renal failure and severe muscle damage.

He had been a monk for eight years and earlier graduated with a bachelor's degree from Maha Chula Ratchawittayalai (Buddhist) University with first class honours. He was conscripted after finishing his master's degree in social science at Thammasat University.

His manner of his death grabbed major headlines after it became known.

Only after relentless petitioning by his family did a military investigation reveal that Wichian was dragged along the ground, struck with bamboo sticks, forced to sit on ice and fed rice and chilli. His wounds were bathed with salt water to inflict more pain.

The Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which investigated his death at the request of Wichian's family, said he was beaten over the course of two days, and denied medical treatment by the army when fighting for his life. The case is also being investigated by police.

At previous hearings, the Civil Court encouraged the plaintiff and the defendants to settle the case through a compromise agreement. The defendants offered to seek 7,049,213 baht from the Comptroller General’s Department as compensation. 

The defendants also asked to deduct 500,000 baht from the seven million baht, arguing the 4th Army Region had earlier made a  half million baht redmedial payment to Wichian’s family.    

The department approved the payment on Monday.

Mrs Prathuang accepted the proposed compensation at the court hearing on Tuesday, July 16,  but refused to withdraw her case against the three state agencies held accountable for her son’s death. She also asked the court to report in its case files that the defendants admitted that they regretted what had happended to Wichian.

The compromise agreement was signed by both parties at the court on Tuesday. However, Mrs Prathuang’s fight for her son continues in the Criminal Court, where the case she has brought against the soldiers who inflicted the beatings drags on slowly. 

The case is pending an investigation into the soldiers' conduct by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that has already taken more than  a year.

Related search: Wichian Puaksom, boot camp violence, Narathiwat Ratchanakarin army camp, beating, torture, compensation,

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