7 charged in hazing death
Senior students to face punishment
Police said on Tuesday they are pressing criminal charges against seven senior students who were allegedly involved in the death of university freshman Padyos Chonpakdi, 19, in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Pol Col Kanatnan Suwannasap, superintendent at Maroeng police station in Muang district, said they had admitted to organising a brutal hazing ritual, and that their university had nothing to do with the matter.
"They are sorry for what they have done and have admitted to their mistake. Further investigations will take place to find out whether there were more people involved," he said.
The seven students face charges of physical assault leading to death, Pol Col Kanatnan said.
The charges come after the national police chief called investigators to expedite the investigation into the freshman's death.
National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk also ordered his officers to treat all parties equally and stressed they must prioritise gathering forensic evidence, Pol Col Kissana said.
Padyos, a first-year student at Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, died during the hazing in a rice field outside the university campus in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Details were posted on the Facebook page "ANTI SOTUS" along with a photo of the victim.
The poster said senior students took Padyos to a rice field where they said they were going to play football, near Ban Nong Rawiang in tambon Nong Rawiang of Muang district.
However Padyos was forced to guzzle liquor and then beaten until he became unconscious.
When efforts to revive him including CPR were unsuccessful, he was taken to Fort Suranaree Hospital about 20 kilometres away. Padyos died on the way.
A police investigator said the hazing took place on Sunday at around 11pm. About 60 first- and second-year students were present. They were allegedly called to attend by the six senior students.
Padyos' father, Ekachai Chonpakdi, 55, returned to Nakhon Ratchasima from Nakhon Si Thammarat on Sunday after learning of his son's death.
At Fort Suranaree Hospital, he met the six senior students, who prostrated themselves at his feet in a show of apology.
Mr Ekachai said by phone he would return to the hospital on Tuesday to take his son's body to Bangkok for an autopsy.
An initial examination found Padyos had Covid-19, but the infection was mild.
Mr Ekachai said university administrators told him the school would offer full compensation to show responsibility, even though the incident occurred off campus. The students are to be sent down for serious misconduct.