Pressure has mounted over treatments of conscripts over the past week after two were found dead in their bases in the Northeast.
Relatives of one of them on Monday asked the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) to handle the case, citing pressure on the family and local police.
Pvt Pichawat Wiangnon, 22, was found hanged on Friday at the 27th Miltary Circle in Roi Et province.
Army deputy spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong said Pvt Pichawat had taken a leave on Oct 24 but failed to show up for work later. He was brought back from his hometown and was punished according to regulations, which involved staying at the base’s headquarters and doing public service, mainly farming.
While being detained, Pvt Pichawat escaped and his family took him back to the base on Thursday. He stayed at the headquarters and at noon on the following day he was found dead.
His mother, Nooklai Boonwiset, 47, told Thai media at the CSD that officers had called her last week, asking her to persuade her son to return to the base.
“But after he complied, he told me on the phone that he was pinned to the floor while his hair was cut and hit in the back. Chili and salt were put on his back,” she said.
Her son also told her he did not want to return and feared for his life.
She said her son had tuberculosis and was easily exhausted. A doctor had earlier recommended a medical leave for six months.
According to Thai media, which quoted information from officers at the base, Pvt Pichawat used a rope to hang himself in a bathroom.
His relatives, who were not allowed to see the body, did not believe this account and his body was sent for another autopsy at the Police Genera Hospital in Bangkok.
In the other case, a Facebook user posted that Pvt Sataporn Piadpad had died while being detained in a cell at the 36th Military Circle in Phetchabun province.
His mother Panun Piadpad, 47, told reporters at the funeral that her son had asked for a leave to attend the funeral of his grandfather in his home province in June. He did not return until Nov 1 and was put in a cell as a punishment for 27 days.
According to her, the cause of death was heart failure. She said her son had not been beaten and the family would not pursue a criminal case. Instead, she would take legal action against the Facebook user who spread the news.
Referring to the two cases on Monday, army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae said the army would not protect wrongdoers.
“The army cannot deny responsibility when someone was found hanged in its jurisdiction. Those in charge will face disciplinary action,” he said, referring to Pvt Pichawat’s case.
He added if any officer was found guilty in a criminal investigation, he would face legal action.
He offered condolences the families of the deceased and said the army would take good care of them.
Beating causing death is not the army’s policy, said Gen Narongphan. “The last case happened two years ago and it should never have happened again.”