Verdict in Santika pub fire case
published : 21 Sep 2011 at 09:25
writer: Terry Fredrickson
Victims and relatives of victims of the Santika pub fire seemed satisfied with the Criminal Court verdict but all agreed that no one could replace their losses.
Rattana Saelim, a victim of the Santika club fire, arrives at Southern Bangkok Criminal Court, where Santika executive Wisuk Setsawat and Boonchu Laosenat, an executive of Focus Light Sound System Co, were jailed for negligence over the fatal blaze that razed the club in Ekamai Soi 9 in the first minutes of Jan 1, 2009. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Santika executives get 3-year terms for deaths of 66 patrons
Santika executive Wisuk Setsawat is escorted into the Criminal Court of Southern Bangkok yesterday. He was sentenced to three years in prison for the deadly fire inside his nightspot on New Year’s Eve 2008. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
The Criminal Court of Southern Bangkok yesterday sentenced two entertainment executives to jail for negligence that led to the Dec 31, 2008 New Year's Eve fire which razed the Santika Pub, killing 66 people and injuring scores more.
Prosecutors had originally charged Santika Pub executive Wisuk Setsawat; Boonchu Laosenat, an executive with special effects company Focus Light Sound System Co; Thawatchai Sithumma, the pub's operations director; Pongthep Jinda, its entertainment manager; Wuthipong Wailikree, Santika's marketing manager; Sarawut Ariya, lead singer of the band Burn, who was accused of lighting the fireworks that might have sparked the fire in the pub; and the Focus Light Sound company itself.
The court found Wisuk, Focus Light Sound System Co, and Boonchu guilty of negligence leading to the deaths of 66 people and the injury of many others, and carelessness that damaged property in violation of sections 290, 300 and 301 of the Criminal Code and the law governing entertainment venues.
Wisuk, alias "Sia Khao", and Boonchu were sentenced to three years in prison each, and Focus Light Sound System Co was fined 20,000 baht.
The two men and Focus Light Sound System Co were also ordered to pay a total of 87 million baht in compensation to the relatives of those who were killed and injured. The other defendants were acquitted.
The court later released Wisut and Boonchu on bail of 500,000 baht each pending appeals.
The verdict was read out to victims and their relatives who have been waiting for justice for nearly three years.
"I am really delighted with the verdict. Every time I have left the court with my head bowed down, but today I have a glimpse of hope," said Esther Laopikanon, who lost her only son, Mark, in the blaze.
"I would like to thank the court for the verdict that was based on the facts," she told the Bangkok Post.
Although she said she was satisfied with the ruling, no amount of punishment could replace the loss of so many lives at the Santika pub, many of whom were very young.
"I can't forget the pain of the loss. I know that everyone has to die one day, but not the way my son died, the way he was burnt," said Mrs Laopikanon.
She said she did not want to see a recurrence of such a tragedy. People in this kind of business should put safety first to protect their customers.
Malee Tanompanyarak, who lost her 30-year-old sister Vipawan in the inferno, said she too was satisfied with the verdict. "They [the defendants] deserve it because they failed to provide safety for their customers," Ms Malee said.
She added that any punishment and compensation provided to the victims' relatives would not be able to make her forget such a terrible loss.
"My sister died a few days after her birthday," Ms Malee said. "If my sister had been alive, she would have done many useful things for the family."
She said although the tragedy had passed in a flash, her family had not celebrated New Year again since the death of her sister.
Chairat Saeng-arun, a lawyer representing the Santika blaze victims, said his clients had also lodged a civil suit with the Phra Khanong Civil Court against the defendants.
Mr Chairat said the Criminal Court verdict would be used to bolster the civil case which would be ruled on in December this year.
Note: I live on Ekamai only about a kilometre from where the Santika once stood. That night, I saw the smoke and heard the sound of ambulances taking away the victims. The next day I walked over to the site and took this short video.
victim – someone who is killed injured or harmed in some way from an accident, natural disaster, crime, etc. à¹à¸«à¸¢à¸·à¹à¸à¸à¸¹à¹à¹à¸à¸£à¸²à¸°à¸«à¹à¸£à¹à¸²à¸¢
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. à¸¨à¸²à¸¥à¸à¸²à¸à¸²
executive – a senior manager in a business or other organisation à¸à¸¹à¹à¸à¸£à¸´à¸«à¸²à¸£
negligence – when you do not give enough care or attention to someone or something à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¸à¸£à¸°à¸¡à¸²à¸, à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¹à¸¡à¹à¹à¸à¸²à¹à¸à¹à¸ªà¹
fatal – causing someone to die à¸à¸¶à¸à¸à¸²à¸¢
blaze – a large fire that cause a lot of damage à¹à¸à¸¥à¸´à¸
raze – to completely destroy a building, town, etc. so that nothing is left à¸à¸³à¸¥à¸²à¸¢à¸à¸à¸£à¸²à¸
sentence – (of a court of law) to give a punishment to someone who has been found guilty of committing a crime à¸à¸³à¸à¸´à¸à¸²à¸à¸©à¸²
nightspot – a place people go to for entertainment at night à¸ªà¸à¸²à¸à¸à¸±à¸à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸¥à¸²à¸à¸à¸·à¸
(jail) term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail à¹à¸§à¸¥à¸²à¸à¸³à¸à¸¸à¸
patron – a customer; someone who uses a particular entertainment place, hotel, restaurant, etc. à¸¥à¸¹à¸à¸à¹à¸²
injure – to hurt or cause physical harm to a person or animal à¸à¸³à¹à¸«à¹à¸à¸²à¸à¹à¸à¹à¸, à¸à¸³à¸£à¹à¸²à¸¢
scores – large numbers of à¸à¸³à¸à¸§à¸à¸¡à¸²à¸
escort – to go with someone à¸à¸¸à¹à¸¡
prosecutor – a lawyer whose job is to prove in court that someone accused of a crime is guilty à¸à¸±à¸¢à¸à¸²à¸£
charge – to accuse someone officially of committing a crime à¸à¸±à¹à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸¥à¹à¸²à¸§à¸«à¸²
special effects – unusual or exciting pieces of action in films/movies or television programmes, that are created by computers or clever photography to show things that do not normally exist or happen
firework –objects that explode when you light them and produce coloured lights and loud noise – à¸à¸à¸à¹à¸¡à¹à¹à¸, à¸à¸à¸à¹à¸¡à¹à¹à¸à¸¥à¸´à¸, à¸à¸¥à¸¸
spark – to make something happen, especially something bad à¸à¹à¸à¹à¸«à¹à¹à¸à¸´à¸
find guilty – to prove in a court of law that someone has committed a crime à¸à¸´à¸ªà¸¹à¸à¸à¹à¸§à¹à¸²à¸¡à¸µà¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¸à¸´à¸
carelessness – not giving enough attention and thought to what you are doing, so that you make mistakes à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¹à¸¡à¹à¸£à¸°à¸¡à¸±à¸à¸£à¸°à¸§à¸±à¸
property – things, especially valuable things, that are owned by someone à¸à¸£à¸±à¸à¸¢à¹à¸ªà¸¡à¸à¸±à¸à¸´, à¸à¸£à¸±à¸à¸¢à¹à¸ªà¸´à¸
violation – an action that is against a law, agreement, principle, etc. à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¸·à¸à¸à¸à¸«à¸¡à¸²à¸¢
Criminal Code – the systems of laws dealing with crimes and their punishment à¸à¸£à¸°à¸¡à¸§à¸¥à¸à¸à¸«à¸¡à¸²à¸¢à¸à¸²à¸à¸²
venue – the place where an activity or event happens à¸ªà¸à¸²à¸à¸à¸µà¹
alias – used when a person is known by two names; used before a different name that someone uses instead of their real name à¸à¸²à¸¢à¸², à¸ªà¸¡à¸à¸²à¸à¸²à¸¡
fine – to be required to pay an amount of money because you have broken the law à¸à¸£à¸±à¸à¹à¸à¹à¸à¹à¸à¸´à¸
compensation – money that someone receives because something bad has happened to them à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¹à¸²à¸¢à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸¢
relative – a member of your family à¸à¸²à¸à¸´à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¹à¸à¸
defendant – someone who has been accused of a crime and is on trial à¸à¸³à¹à¸¥à¸¢
acquit – to state officially that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of à¸¢à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸, à¸à¸±à¸à¸ªà¸´à¸à¹à¸«à¹à¸à¹à¸à¹à¸à¸©
release – to allow someone to go free à¸à¸¥à¹à¸à¸¢à¸à¸±à¸§
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 à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸£à¸°à¸à¸±à¸; à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¸£à¸°à¸à¸±à¸à¸à¸±à¸§
pending – waiting to be dealt with, settled or completed à¸¢à¸±à¸à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¸à¸¢à¸¹à¹, à¸à¸¶à¹à¸à¸¢à¸±à¸à¹à¸¡à¹à¸à¸à¸ªà¸´à¹à¸, à¸à¸¢à¸¹à¹à¹à¸à¸£à¸°à¸«à¸§à¹à¸²à¸
appeal – a request to a court to change a decision by a lower court à¸à¸¸à¸à¸à¸£à¸à¹
verdict – a decision by a court of law à¸à¸³à¸à¸´à¸à¸²à¸à¸©à¸²
delighted – very happy or satisfied about something à¸¢à¸´à¸à¸à¸µà¸¡à¸²à¸,à¸ªà¸¸à¸à¹à¸
glimpse – when you see something or someone for a very short time à¹à¸«à¸¥à¸·à¸à¸à¸à¸¹, à¸à¸³à¹à¸¥à¸·à¸à¸, à¸à¸²à¸¢à¸à¸²à¸¡à¸à¸
ruling – a decision by a court of law à¸à¸³à¸à¸±à¸à¸ªà¸´à¸ à¸à¸³à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¸²à¸
replace – to put a new person or thing in the place of someone or something à¹à¸à¸
recurrence – something that happens again à¸à¸²à¸£à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸¶à¹à¸à¸à¸µà¸,à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¸¥à¸±à¸à¸¡à¸²à¸à¸µà¸
tragedy – a very sad event that causes people to suffer or die à¹à¸¨à¸à¸à¸²à¸à¸à¸£à¸£à¸¡
inferno – a very large dangerous fire à¹à¸à¸¥à¸´à¸à¹à¸«à¸¡à¹à¸à¸£à¸±à¹à¸à¹à¸«à¸à¹
deserve – of something, good or bad, that you earn or are given because of your behavior or qualities à¸ªà¸¡à¸à¸§à¸£à¹à¸à¹à¸£à¸±à¸
pass in a flash – to happen very quickly à¸§à¸¹à¸à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸¢à¹à¸²à¸à¸£à¸§à¸à¹à¸£à¹à¸§
client – a customer or someone who receives services of a lawyer à¸¥à¸¹à¸à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡
lodge – to formally make something such as a complaint or a claim à¸¢à¸·à¹à¸ (à¸à¸³à¸£à¹à¸à¸)
civil suit –a case filed a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially a complaints made by people against other people or organisations à¸à¸à¸µà¸à¸µà¹à¸¢à¸·à¹à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸¨à¸²à¸¥à¹à¸à¹à¸
Civil Court – a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations à¸¨à¸²à¸¥à¹à¸à¹à¸
bolster – to make something stronger or more effective à¸à¸³à¹à¸«à¹à¹à¸à¹à¸¡à¹à¸à¹à¸