32 students charged in fatal hazing

32 students charged in fatal hazing

Seniors disgraced juniors into stripping

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: Police have pressed charges against 32 senior students of Rajamangala University of Technology Isan for their roles in organising a violent hazing ritual, including the seven students charged with causing a student's death.

Pol Col Kanatnan Suwannasap, superintendent of Maroeng police station in Muang district, said yesterday that investigators had so far questioned more than 60 people, students and others, who attended the brutal hazing in a paddy field outside the campus.

Seven senior students have been charged with colluding in physical assault causing death and in assault causing physical and mental harm, he said.

Twenty-five other senior students are charged with bringing disgrace on junior students and violating communicable disease controls. The junior students were reportedly forced to take off their clothes, he said.

Pol Col Kanatnan said he had ordered the investigation team to wrap up the case in 30 days.

The charges arise from the death of Padyos "Prem'' Chonpakdi, 19, a first-year student at Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, who died after being beaten unconscious during a hazing ritual for freshmen in a dry paddy field at Ban Khok Makok in Muang district on the night of March 13.

The details were first revealed on the Facebook page ANTI SOTUS. Hazing is known euphemistically as Seniority Order Tradition Unity Spirit.

The post said senior students took Padyos to the rice field under the pretence they were going to play football.

Instead, the gathering became a violent ritual in which Padyos was forced to drink alcohol and then beaten unconscious by the senior students. He died on the way to hospital.

Surapot Watcharopakul, deputy rector of Rajamangala University of Technology Isan and chairman of the university's investigation panel, said a meeting with the university's governing body panel would consider academic penalties against senior students involved in the hazing.

The police investigation report would also be taken into consideration, said Mr Surapot.

"Any students directly involved in beating Padyos and causing his death would be expelled for serious misconduct. Other senior students who secretly organised the hazing would face suspension from their studies and those who attended the ritual would have their behaviour scores cut," the deputy rector said.

The governing body panel would be asked to conclude the penalties this week, he said.

On Monday, relatives, friends, student parents and lecturers bid a final farewell to Padyos, who was cremated at Wat Noi in Sikhiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima.

Amornwut Singdanjaki, representing the university alumni, presented 400,000 baht in remedial donations from former students to the victim's father, Ekachai Chonpakdi, 55.

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