Six cops in alleged torture death give statements as witnesses

Six cops in alleged torture death give statements as witnesses

Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon is taken from the Crime Suppression Division to return to Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan on Thursday night. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon is taken from the Crime Suppression Division to return to Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan on Thursday night. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Investigators handling the torture-death case against Pol Col Thitisan Utthamaphon have completed their initial interrogation of his six subordinates who are alleged accomplices.

Crime Suppression Division commander Pol Maj Gen Suwat Saengnoom on Tuesday said the six policemen gave statements as witnesses to the alleged murder.

They told investigators they were present during the arrest of the victim, drug suspect Jeerapong Thanapat, and took him to Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan for questioning.

Investigators would later look into their roles in the alleged offence in more detail.

He would not say if the six would be charged with dereliction of duty. 

Asked about a rumour being spread on social media that Pol Col Thitisan suffered from bipolar disorder, the CSD commander was noncommittal.

“It depends on the evidence whether he suffered it before or after [the alleged crime] and whether he received treatment or not. Any vague claims carry no weight in the case,’’ Pol Maj Gen Suwat said.

The CSD chief rejected speculation that police would help the suspects get off lightly. The CSD's handling of the case would be evidence-based and ensure justice for all involved.

Asked about Pol Col Thitisan's obvious wealth, the CSD chief said the Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECD) had been assigned to investigate that issue and his handling of cases involving the seizure and subsequent sale of more than 300 luxury cars .

A preliminary investigation found that Pol Col Thitisan’s role was not unusual. However, ECD investigators would look into whether the information given was true or not. The officers would also investigate the importers of those vehicles.

The CSD has taken over the case against the seven police officers at Nakhon Sawan’s Muang police station.

Investigators have been given 30 days to complete the probe before forwarding their report to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Pol Col Thitisan, also known as "Joe Ferrari", surrendered to police at the CSD in Bangkok  on Thursday evening last week.

During a press conference, Pol Col Thitisan admitted ordering the "partial suffocation" of the 24-year-old drug suspect with plastic bags during interrogation. He claimed the motive was to find out where drugs were stashed, not to extort money from him as  earlier reported.

The since-sacked chief of Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan and his six subordinates were arrested after a video clip on social media showed the suspect being suffocated to death with six plastic bags.

The video sparked a barrage of condemnation of the Muang district police chief and his six subordinates.

All surrendered to police after arrest warrants had been issued. However, Pol Col Thitisan first fled to Chon Buri, then surrendered at CSD headquarters on Thursday evening.

Results of an autopy released on Monday confirmed that the deceased suspect, Jeerapong, died of suffocation.

While traces of drugs were found in his body, they were not the cause of death, according to Pol Col Anek Taosuparb, an officer leading the investigation panel into Jeerapong's death.   



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