The head of an army training centre is facing an investigation following the death of a conscript the morning after he was reportedly punished for smuggling an e-cigarette into the centre, army chief Gen Narongpan Jittkaewtae said on Wednesday.
A committee will look into the death at the 27th Cavalry Squadron in Muang district of Saraburi. Those involved in his training will be punished if they are found to be at fault, the army chief said.
He was responding to media reports about the death of Pvt Wanyawut Lampapa which some suggest resulted from arduous military punishment exercises. News reports cited a popular Facebook page called Big Krian (big troll) which quoted the result of an autopsy on the 21-year-old soldier. The result indicated the cause of death was a ruptured spleen.
The autopsy result contradicted a statement by the military camp where the training centre is located, which insisted the soldier died from a pre-existing chronic disease, said a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday.
The young man's mother has taken his body back home to Chamni district of Buri Ram for a funeral and she had no problems with the cause as given, said the post. She said she was well aware that her son was physically weak and tired easily when doing exercise.
She had talked to his trainers and other parties about how he died, said the post. His mother, however, insisted her son didn't have any chronic disease. The soldier arrived at the centre on May 16 and died on Sunday.
"We have to accept the truth no matter what. And if it really is our men's fault, they will face disciplinary action," said Gen Narongpan. "As for the family of the dead soldier, we will see what we can do to compensate them."
The centre at the 27th Cavalry Squadron is one of 299 army training centres nationwide. The army chief insisted the army has an accountability policy on conscription and soldier training which can still win the trust of parents.
Army Region 1 later issued a letter expressing deep regret for the loss of Pvt Wanyawut.
It said an initial probe found he had not been assaulted leading to his death.