Crucial evidence in Tangmo drowning case 'not properly stored'

Crucial evidence in Tangmo drowning case 'not properly stored'

Police left speedboat outside, open to weathering

Members of the Senate committee on human rights, liberty and consumer protection inspect the speedboat actress Nida
Members of the Senate committee on human rights, liberty and consumer protection inspect the speedboat actress Nida "Tangmo" Patcharaveerapong fell from, at Nonthaburi police headquarters in Muang district on Thursday. They said investigators should have properly stored the boat, not left it exposed to the weather, to protect forensic evidence. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

A Senate committee has warned police investigators of the need to properly store the speedboat in the still unresolved "Tangmo" death case, to protect forensic evidence that could otherwise be damaged.

Members of the Senate committee on human rights, liberty and consumer protection visited the headquarters of Nonthaburi police in Muang district of Nonthaburi on Thursday.

They inspected the speedboat that TV actress Nida "Tangmo" Patcharaveerapong, 37, was travelling in on the Chao Phraya River when she drowned on Feb 24.

The delegation spent about two hours with Pol Col Jaturon Anurakbundit, chief of Muang Nonthaburi police.

Afterwards, committee chairman Somchai Sawangkarn confirmed they inspected the speedboat, which he said was important evidence, and also discussed suspicions raised about the case .

They were told that police investigators planned to wrap up the case next month.

Mr Somchai said the Senate committee asked police not to store the speedboat outdoors at the provincial police headquarters, where it was exposed to the environment. If the boat could not be moved to a proper garage it should be covered over completely, to keep forensic evidence on the boat intact, he said.

The committee also recommended police seek information from boating experts on people falling overboard and the nature of the injuries they suffered, Mr Somchai said.

Senator Porntip Rojanasunan, a former director-general of the Central Institute of Forensic Science and a member of the committee, said the speedboat was important to the case and should be "more properly stored".

Leaving it outdoors exposed it to rain and evidence could be corrupted, and simply cordoning it off was not a good enough means of protecting evidence, she said.

"In principle, material evidence must be kept away from damage and contamination, which could have an effect on cases in court," Khunying Porntip said.

The forensic specialist also said that so far, she had not found any explanation for a fishbone-like wound found on Nida's body.

The late actress was with five other people when she fell from the speedboat on the night of Feb 24. The boat belongs to Tanupat "Por" Lerttaweewit, one of two people charged with negligence leading to the actress's death.

Her body was found in the river two days later.

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