Pressure rises on Orachorn
Family joins calls for crash compo payout
Pressure is building on Orachorn "Praewa" Thephasadin na Ayudhya, who killed nine people and injured four others in a crash on a tollway in 2010, to pay compensation to the victims, with members of her extended high-profile family joining public calls that she act.
Natthapol Thongkham, a lawyer for the Thephasadin na Ayudhya family, said the family house has always stressed to Orachorn's family that they should follow the law, and the extended family had never supported the family's decision to avoid paying the compensation.
Suchai Thephasadin na Ayudhaya, secretary-general to the family house, regretted that a member of the family was involved in the matter, said Mr Natthapol.
The Thephasadin na Ayudhaya family has also donated 500,000 baht to a fund intended for families of the 2010 crash victims to help cover their legal costs as they fight for the ordered compensation.
On May 8, the Supreme Court ordered Orachorn to pay 26 million baht to the surviving victims and families of the dead victims. The case involved 28 plaintiffs.
The compensation ranges from 4,000 baht to 1.8 million baht per case, according to Thammasat University Law Centre, which is monitoring the case closely.
An interview with relatives of the victims killed in the crash that aired on a news talk programme on Thairath TV on Monday has sparked public outrage.
The relatives said they had not received a single baht of compensation from Orachorn over the past nine years.
"We've contacted Praewa and asked her to come out to apologise... sincerely apologise," said Mr Natthapol.
Meanwhile, Orachorn's parents insisted in an interview with a talkshow programme on Channel 28 that they were preparing to sell two plots of land -- a 21-rai-land in Prachuap Khiri Khan and a 300-square-wa land in Nonthaburi -- to pay the court-ordered compensation.
Nilubol Arunwong, Orachon's mother, showed the title deeds of the two land plots while on the show, saying her family didn't have enough money in hand to pay the compensation.
Ms Nilubol also urged the Justice Ministry to use the money from its Justice Fund to immediately pay the victims, which the family will pay back later.
"We never thought about delaying the payment. We haven't siphoned off any assets. We are following the law," she said.
"Nine years have passed but it seemed like the accident happened yesterday. They [victims of the crash] are suffering, we are also suffering. Our daughter is like a dead woman walking. Everybody [in the family] has to take sleeping pills each night. Nobody is happy," she said.
Ms Nilubol also apologised to everyone affected by the crash, the public, as well as the extended Thephasadin na Ayudhya family.
Thawatchai Thaikhiew, deputy permanent secretary for justice, said there are no regulations that would permit the ministry to use the Justice Fund to pay compensation on behalf of a convict.
"If the family is unable to pay the ordered compensation, they should apply for the appropriate legal processes," he said.
"Their assets will be sold through auctions to raise money to pay the compensation."
On Dec 27, 2010, Orachorn crashed her car into the back of a passenger van carrying students and staff of Thammasat University's Rangsit campus on the Don Muang Tollway. She was 16 at the time.
In 2011, she was charged with driving without a licence, reckless driving causing death and injuries, property damage, and using a mobile phone while driving.
She was sentenced to three years in prison, which was later suspended.
She was ordered to perform 48 hours of community service annually for four years as a condition of her release.