Life imprisonment for police who tortured suspect to death

Life imprisonment for police who tortured suspect to death

Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, third from left in kevlar vest, answers questions from police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, right, at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Aug 26, 2021. (Police photo)
Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, third from left in kevlar vest, answers questions from police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, right, at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Aug 26, 2021. (Police photo)

Six policemen, including the former chief of Muang Nakhon Sawan police station, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for torturing a drug suspect to death with plastic bags placed over his head.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct initially gave them the death penalty.

The sentences were commuted to life beause they confessed to some acts, attempted to resuscitate the suspect and gave financial assistance to the victim's family.

The sentence was handed down to former Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, who was chief of Nakhon Sawan police station at the time, and five of his subordinates. Thitisan was also known by the nickname "Jo Ferrari" because of his collection of luxury cars.

From Aug 4-6, 2021, the six held drug suspect Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, for questioning at Nakhon Sawan station.

The suspect's head was covered with plastic bags during questioning and he died. A video clip of the questioning was leaked, even though surveillance cameras at the scene were removed afterwards.

The defendants were arraigned on charges of malfeasance, coercion and lethal torture.

Thitisan had denied allegations he and his team were trying to extort money from the suspect, saying they were trying to get information from him because they found pictures of drugs in the suspect's mobile phone.

The court found the defendants guilty as charged.

Thitisan had denied the fatal torture charge and the five other defendants denied all charges.

Thitisan also made headlines when reporters found 13 luxury cars worth more than 100 million baht at his 60-million-baht mansion in Bangkok.

The Customs Department said that as part of his job Thitisan had confiscated 368 illegal vehicles, including high-end cars, from 2011 to 2017.  The department confirmed that Thitisan was eligible for rewards for seizing the vehicles.

Of the cars, 363 were sold at auctions, fetching about one billion baht. A total of 30% of the proceeds went to people who provided information to the authorities, and  25% went to the arresting officers, including police and customs officials.

Vocabulary

  • auction: a usually public sale of goods or property, where people make higher and higher bids (= offers of money) for each thing, until the thing is sold to the person who will pay most - การขายโดยการประมูล, การขายทอดตลาด
  • commute (a punishment): to change a punishment to one that is less severe - ลดโทษ (รุนแรงให้น้อยลง)
  • confiscate: to officially remove someone’s possessions for legal reasons or as a punishment   - ยึดทรัพย์
  • extort: to try to illegally obtain something by force or threat - รีดไถ
  • guilty: having been decided by a court of law that you committed the crime your were accused of - มีความผิด
  • leak (verb): to tell private or secret information to journalists or to the public; to release secret or private information, photos, etc. without permission - ทำให้รู้ความลับ, เปิดเผย
  • mansion: a large house, especially a beautiful one - คฤหาสน์
  • misconduct: unacceptable or bad behaviour by someone in a position of authority or responsibility - การประพฤติผิด
  • questioning: when the police asks a person questions in the investigation of a crime -
  • seize (verb): to take something using force - ยึด, จับกุม
  • sentence : a punishment given by a court of law - การตัดสินลงโทษ
  • subordinate: someone who has less power or authority than someone else - ผู้ใต้บังคับบัญชา สมุน
  • torture: causing great physical or mental pain to someone intentionally - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
  • torture: to cause great physical or mental pain to someone intentionally - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
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