'Joe Ferrari' pleads not guilty to murder
A former chief of Nakhon Sawan police station accused of torturing and killing a drug suspect while in custody pleaded not guilty to the murder charge on Friday during an arraignment at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.
Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, also known as "Joe Ferrari" due to his collection of expensive cars, and six others were indicted on four charges of malfeasance, abuse of authority, colluding to murder by torture, and coercion in connection with the death of Chiraphong Thanapat, a 24-year-old drug suspect.
They were accused of killing him while trying to extort 2 million baht during an Aug 5 interrogation. A video posted on social media showed Chiraphong being suffocated during questioning, his head covered with a black plastic bag held in place by officers.
During the arraignment, Pol Col Thitisan told the court he did not intend to kill the suspect; rather he meant to scare Chiraphong into revealing more information about his illicit drug activities. He pleaded guilty to the other three charges.
Pol Maj Rawirot Ditthong, the second defendant, also pleaded not guilty to the murder charge but admitted the three other charges, while the third defendant, Pol Capt Songyot Khlainak, denied the murder and coercion charges and pleaded guilty to malfeasance and abuse of authority.
Pol Lt Thoranin Matwanna, the fourth defendant, denied all charges except coercion. The rest of the defendants, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Suphakon Nimchuen, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wisut Bunkhiew and Pol L/C Pawikon Khammarew, denied all charges.