Tangmo case a litmus test

Tangmo case a litmus test

Two weeks after the death of Nida "Tangmo" Patcharaveerapong, people remain frustrated and unconvinced by the way police have handled the investigation.

Doubts were heightened on Tuesday after police investigators said in a press update that evidence and witnesses pointed to negligence causing death, rather than murder.

Many people suspected there was more to the actress's death than an accident given the number of irregularities in the case. Above all, the public was sceptical as to whether the police could handle the case in a transparent manner because one of suspects is wealthy and has connections with influential people in politics.

The doubts that have surrounded the investigation speak volumes about the public's lack of trust in the police.

People still remember the accusations that police helped Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya evade capture and remain at large to this day, after he drove his Ferrari and killed a policeman in Bangkok many years ago.

The public was again shocked last year by the fatal torturing of a drug suspect by "Joe Ferrari", then superintendent of Nakhon Sawan police.

So when the police urge the public to "have trust in the police and the judiciary system" -- this is something that is easier said than done.

The lack of trust has driven many people to believe fake news concerning Nida's death. Some have bought into the conspiracy theory peddled by MP Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, leader of the Thai Civilised Party, and Santhana Prayoonrat, a former Special Branch deputy superintendent, that the actress may have been deliberately killed.

The police have said they will wrap the case up either by the end of this week or next week.

Pol Maj Gen Udorn Yomcharoen, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1, said on Tuesday that Phaiboon "Robert" Trikanjananun has told investigators that he had scant knowledge of driving a boat and wanted to try it on the night of Feb 24.

Police also said the evidence did not show any trace of narcotic use on that night.

That night, Mr Phaiboon and five other people, including Nida, took a speedboat trip in the Chao Phraya River. They claimed later that she fell off the boat after trying to relieve herself at the rear of the vessel.

They also admitted getting drunk on wine. The police claimed at one point that one had admitted to having taken narcotics, but this remains unverified.

Either way, the police have been criticised for dragging their feet.

Instead of summoning all five for interrogation as soon as possible and having them undergo urine and blood tests, they let too much time elapse.

It is noteworthy that the group returned the boat to a private garage on Feb 24, several hours after the incident.

The boat was then cleaned. The five reported themselves to the police a full two days after the incident, and gave urine tests another four days later.

As such, there was ample time for evidence to have been tampered with. It is also known that some of the people on the boat met again at restaurants and discussed with a politician how to deal with the case.

This investigation could make or break the reputation of the Royal Thai Police. Asking the public to have faith in them and the justice process simply doesn't cut it.

Trust must be earned -- by their professionalism, efficiency, integrity and transparency.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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