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3 Thai Police Officers Given Death Penalty

Chiangrai Times– A Thai court Monday sentenced three police officers to death for killing a teenager during a much-criticized drug crackdown by the government eight years ago.

Three Thai police officers from left, Sgt. Suthinant Nonting, Sgt. Angkarn Khammoonna and Sgt. Pannasin Uppatam are escorted by prison officials after a court hearing in Bangkok, Thailand Monday

The officers were found guilty Monday of killing a 17-year-old student in Kalasin province in the northeast in 2004 and moving his body to conceal the cause of death.

They were sentenced to death for the premeditated murder of 17-year-old Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong, moving the body to conceal the cause of death, and being competent officers in a criminal investigation who abused their power to help prevent another person from being brought to justice.

The Kalasin student was found dead, hanged in a rice field in Roi Et province, just days after being released from the Muang Kalasin police station on July 22, 2004.

Pol Lt Col Sumit Nunsathit was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment under articles 289-4 and 86 and and Pol Col Montri Boonlue was sentenced to seven years in prison.

A sixth defendant,  Pol Sen Sgt Maj Samphao Indee, was acquitted on all charges.

The dead boy’s relatives — including his auntie Pikul Prohmchan and grandmother Sa Thitboonkhrong — and members of other Kalasin families who suffered during the sweeping police action against the drug trade in the province, and extra-judicial killings, were present at the Ratchadaphisek courtroom for the sentencing.

The killing took place under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government, which declared a crackdown on the drug trade to stem an influx of methamphetamine. Rights activists allege it resulted in more than 2,000 extrajudicial killings.

The Criminal Court also sentenced a former deputy police district commander to life in prison for the boy’s murder and the former district commander was given a seven-year jail term for abuse of authority. One police officer was acquitted.

Few criminal cases involving alleged abuses during the Thaksin government’s drug war have reached court, and fewer still have resulted in guilty verdicts.

Thailand carries out the death penalty infrequently, with just a handful of executions in the past decade.

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