Autopsy finds new injuries in ex-land official's alleged suicide

Autopsy finds new injuries in ex-land official's alleged suicide

DSI officials invite reporters to see the detention room where former land official Thawatchai Anukul was found hanged. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
DSI officials invite reporters to see the detention room where former land official Thawatchai Anukul was found hanged. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Police coroners have concluded that bleeding in the stomach, a ruptured liver and suffocation caused the death of a former land official reported to have used his socks to hang himself while in DSI custody.

The Police General Hospital's Institute of Forensic Medicine released the result of a post-mortem examination of Thawatchai Anukul, 66, a former official attached to the Phangnga land office, on Wednesday.

Thawatchai’s younger brother, Mr Chainarong said the autopsy results indicated that the rupture of liver was caused by forcible contact with a hard, blunt object.

DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang said the doctor who treated the suspect has been asked to clarify if the liver rupture was caused by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed by officials who attempted to resuscitate him. 

Thawatchai was allegedly involved in numerous land fraud cases in Phuket and Phangnga. He was arrested on Monday on charges of illegally issuing land deeds for up to 1,000 plots of land worth more than 10 billion baht in the two southern provinces. 

Officials at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) reacted quickly, saying no foul play was involved and suggested Thawatchai may have committed suicide. 

He had shown signs of stress given that he would have had to stand trial in several cases related to land offences that were being investigated by the DSI, Anti-Money Laundering Office and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Thawatchai was being held in a detention room on the sixth floor of the DSI headquarters after his interrogation finished at 3.45pm on Monday. 

He was found in a semi-sitting position with his back against the room's door at 2am on Tuesday, with his socks wrapping around his neck and attached to a door hinge, according to deputy DSI chief Songsak Raksaksakun. 

He was still alive. Officials performed CPR but failed to revive him before he was rushed to Mongkutwattana General Hospital. Thawatchai was pronounced dead at 4.45am.

Mr Chainarong, who went to the Police Hospital to collect Thawatchai’s body, said the family did not suspect anyone in Thawatchai’s death. 

However, Mr Chainarong wanted an explanation as to why a DSI official who was guarding the detention room originally said Thawatchai had ripped up his shirt and used it to hang himself, whereas the chief of the detention unit, Chayapol Warncha-aim said he used his socks. 

The family asked officials for permission to view footage of CCTV cameras near the room but was told that no cameras were installed in the area, he added.     

Later on Wednesday, Pol Col Songsak affirmed the suspect used his socks to hang himself and had not been beaten. The autopsy results only showed bruises on his neck and there were no signs of trauma to his body. 

His relatives were present during the interrogation and they were informed immediately after Thawatchai was found with the socks wrapped around his neck. 

Pol Col Songsak earlier said there was no security camera in the room and that the suspect was allowed to wear socks because “it was an air-conditioned room which was cold at night”.

Pol Col Songsak also rejected rumours that Thawatchai may have been "silenced" and the killing masterminded by influential figures behind the land-related offences, saying there was no evidence to back the claim. 

“An investigation has been launched to determine if any official has committed dereliction of duty or any criminal offence related to the incident,” he added.

Pol Col Paisit said CCTV footage would be checked to see who entered and left the room before the suspect was found.

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