PM rejects call for death on rapists

PM rejects call for death on rapists

Chatree Ruamsungnoen, a suspect in the rape-murder case of a teacher in Kaeng Khoi district, Saraburi, is taken for a media briefing at the Provincial Police Region 1, on Monday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Chatree Ruamsungnoen, a suspect in the rape-murder case of a teacher in Kaeng Khoi district, Saraburi, is taken for a media briefing at the Provincial Police Region 1, on Monday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The cruel murder of a teacher has sparked a call for all rapists to be put to death, a social-media appeal which was quickly shot down by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, officially the country's sole law enforcement officer.

The prime minister said he disagrees with calls for capital punishment for all rape and murder cases 

Some friends and sympathisers of Chularat Towanna have posted in social media, calling for a death sentence for rapists, starting with this case, in which Chatree Ruamsungnoen, 27, was identified as the suspect.

"My vote for a death sentence for him," a person wrote on a banner which was put on a car's windshield and posted in social media.

"Raping = Death sentence. Or do we have to wait until more people become victims?" another wrote on the teacher's photo, with the text "RIP Iew," referring to the victim's nickname.

Gen Prayut quickly indicated he disagreed, saying severe penalties alone cannot prevent rapes.

“Please look at what other countries do,” Gen Prayut said, urging capital punishment supporters not to completely base their thoughts on emotions.

Many countries have abandoned death sentencing, he said, adding that even if “three executions” were the legal punishment for murder, it may still not be enough to deter criminals.

While several victims were killed in rape cases, what happened to Chularat, 26, angered a lot of people as the suspect allegedly committed the crime only 10 months after he had been released from prison on another rape charge.

In the previous case, he was sentenced to a two-year jail term of which he served 18 months before receiving a royal pardon.

The man allegedly confessed to police at the Provincial Police Region 1 office on Monday, saying he had killed the teacher because she shouted for help after he broke into her room on Friday night. He earlier told the same account to police in Kaeng Khoi district in Saraburi after he was arrested on Saturday.

Their rented rooms were in the same compound. The teacher was a native of Roi Et and taught at Saeng Witthaya school in the district.

Chatree backtracked on his confession Monday, and now says he did not mean to rape the teacher, intending only to steal her possessions.

It was only when the teacher woke up and screamed that he became frightened and killed her, according to Provincial Police Region 1 chief Pol Lt Gen Chaiwat Ketworachai.

In an earlier confession, Chatree told police he attempted to rape the teacher but she fought back so he killed her.

The suspect will be placed in solitary confinement to prevent him from being assaulted by other inmates who may of learned of his alleged attack.

According to investigators, Chatree has committed similar offences on two other occasions.

He was jailed for almost two years for raping his friend’s wife.

He was released from prison 10 months ago.

Permanent secretary for justice Korbkiat Kasiwiwat said on Monday that the chance for Mr Chatree to receive another royal pardon this time was zero if he was found guilty by court because he repeated the same offence within five years.

Mr Chatree was charged with premeditated murder, an offence punishable by death under the Criminal Code.

The man was sent back to Kaeng Khoi for detention and district police are responsible for the case.

Police on Sunday were forced to cancel the re-enactment of the crime in the district, as angry onlookers were waiting for him at the crime scene and emotions ran high.

Pol Lt Gen Chaiwat Ketworachai, chief of the Provincial Police Region 1, said he left it to Saraburi police chief Pol Maj Gen Thiti Saengsawang to decide when the crime re-enactment should be held, taking into consideration the safety of the suspect.

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