Ruling on 'Joe Ferrari' case set for June 8

Ruling on 'Joe Ferrari' case set for June 8

Closing statements due next month in torture-murder case against seven police officers

Pol Col Thitisan “Joe Ferrari” Utthanaphon is taken from Crime Suppression Division headquarters to the Nakhon Sawan police station on the night of Aug 26 last year after he surrendered to answer charges that he tortured a drug suspect to death. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Pol Col Thitisan “Joe Ferrari” Utthanaphon is taken from Crime Suppression Division headquarters to the Nakhon Sawan police station on the night of Aug 26 last year after he surrendered to answer charges that he tortured a drug suspect to death. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Seven former policemen accused of murdering a drug suspect by suffocating him with a plastic bag will learn their fate on June 8, the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has announced.

After four months of inquiries and testimony from both plaintiffs and defendants, the court on Thursday announced that it would rule on the high-profile case at 9.30am on June 8. Closing statements from both sides are to be delivered within 30 days from Thursday.

The announcement was made after the court heard the accounts of the last two defendants, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wisut Bunkhiew and Pol L/C Pawikon Khammarew, to complete the hearing process that started in November.

Others accused in the case are Pol Col Thitisan “Joe Ferrari” Utthanaphon, Pol Maj Rawirot Ditthong, Pol Capt Songyot Khlainak, Pol Lt Thoranin Matwanna and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Suphakon Nimchuen.

All were at the Muang district police station in Nakhon Sawan before they were dismissed from the police force after drug suspect Chiraphong Thanapat, 24, was tortured to death in August last year. Prosecutors have alleged that the officers led by Pol Col Thitisan were trying to extort 2 million baht from Chiraphong.

Public prosecutors and the parents of the victim — Jakkrit Klundee and Chanjira Thanapat — filed complaints that led to four charges: for malfeasance, abuse of authority, torture causing death, and coercion. The accused could face the death penalty if found guilty.

The father and mother also demanded 1.55 million baht from the accused in compensation for the death of their son.

Chiraphong and his wife, Kanokwan Klainim, were arrested in Muang district of Nakhon Sawan on Aug 4 by police posing as drug customers. The couple were taken to a room in the compound of the police station for interrogation led by Pol Col Thitisan, nicknamed Joe Ferrari due to his flamboyant lifestyle and love of luxury sports cars.

A video posted on social media showed Chiraphong being suffocated during the interrogation, his head covered by a black plastic bag, while police were trying to export 2 million baht from him. He was officially pronounced dead on Aug 5.

His wife, who was not seen in the room, was then released.

The video of the incident did not emerge until more than two weeks after the fact, causing a national outcry. Pol Col Thitisan fled but surrendered four days later on Aug 26.

Defendants' claims

Here is a summary of what the seven suspects said in court during the trial. All said they had no intention to kill Chiraphong and offered different details of their involvement.

Pol Col Thitisan: He said the torture was intended to get information from Chiraphong so that police could expand their operation to clamp down on illicit drugs.

Pol Maj Rawirot: He admitted that he took part in the interrogation in the room leading to the death.

Pol Capt Songyot: He said he entered the room later to hold the man, whose head had been already wrapped in a plastic bag.

Pol Lt Thoranin: He said he had to follow the order of his supervisors.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wisut: He also said he had to follow the order of his supervisors.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Suphakon: He said he entered the room only for one minute and then left.

Pol L/C Pawikon: He said he was asked by his supervisors to help other colleagues to hold Chiraphong.

All of the suspects are being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison.


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