Thai Appeals Court Reaffirms Death Sentence for Railway Worker who Raped and Murdered 13-year-old Kachakorn Pitakchamnong
PRACHUAP KIRI KHAN – A Thai appeals court yesterday reaffirmed the death sentence for a railway worker Wanchai Saengkhao, 23, for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl.
Wanchai Saengkhao, was sentenced to death by the court in September 2014 for killing 13-year-old Kachakorn Pitakchamnong.
Mr.Wanchai’s defense team appealed the verdict on the grounds his life should be spared because he had repented his action.
“His argument that he has repented his wrongdoing is inadmissible,” the judge said, rejecting Wanchai’s call for leniency and affirming the death penalty the Khaosod News Reported.
Under Thai law, those sentenced to death have 60 days to appeal the verdict. The execution cannot be carried out unless the case is considered final.
Somjet Amnuaysawasdi, head of Seventh District Appeals Court, said prosecutors will not appeal the verdict, but Wanchai has the right to do so if he believes the sentence should be overturned.
Wanchai Bunnag, the lawyer representing the victim’s family, said his clients are satisfied with the court’s affirmation of death penalty for the convict.
The rape and murder of the 13-year-old Kachakorn Pitakchamnong took place on a night train operated by the State Railway of Thailand, or SRT, as it was passing through Prachuap Kiri Khan in the early morning of 6 July.
Wanchai, an SRT custodian, was later arrested by police and confessed that he committed the crime after getting high on methamphetamine while on duty.
Pro-death penalty activists also seized on the incident to campaign for making rapes punishable by death; under current law, rape carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a rape committed with use of a weapon is punishable by life in prison.
Capital punishment in Thailand had fallen out of favor by the time the country changed its means of execution to lethal injection in 2003. That year, four people were executed and since then, two were executed in 2009, according to Amnesty International. All were executed for drug-related offenses.
The campaign for capital punishment of rapists was spearheaded by former beauty pageant winner Panadda Wongphudee and endorsed by the family of the 13-year-old girl raped and murdered by Wanchai.
Supporters of the death penalty insist that executing rapists would decrease the number of rape incidents, though human rights activists say there is little proof the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crimes.
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