Thailand: Body of Land Fraud Suspect Who Died in DSI Custody Re-Examined by Independent Medical Examiners
BANGKOK – Thailand’s Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Koomchaya told the Thai media yesderday that Independent medical examiners will join an investigation into the death of land fraud suspect Thawatchai Anukul, who died mysteriously while in custody of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
At a press conference yesterday a Royal Thai Police spokesman told Thai PBS that the relatives of the deceased had every right to file charges and ask for an investigation if they suspect any foul play on part of the DSI department.
They can do so by filing charges with the Thung Song Hong police station, he said.
The Royal Thai Police affirmed that autopsy procedures performed by the Forensic Medicine Institute was in accordance with international standards and furthermore assured the public that the commissioner had placed the highest priority in finding the actual cause of death and that the case must be handled fairly.
Thawatchai, 66, was a key suspect in several land fraud cases and was allegedly involved in unlawfully issuing land deeds to wealthy people.
He was arrested in Nonthaburi province on Monday (Aug 29) after having been on the run for almost a decade for his alleged role in numerous land fraud cases in Phuket and Phang Nga.
According to the Phuket News, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Thawatchai tried to commit suicide by hanging himself with a pair of socks while in detention on the sixth floor of the DSI’s headquarters in the early hours of Tuesday. He died later at the nearby Mongkutwattana Hospital.
DSI deputy chief Pol Col Songsak Raksaksakul said today that a DSI official on duty at the detention room where the suspect was first reported to hang himself has contacted the Thung Song Hong police station for questioning.
Thung Song Hong police investigator said so far only one DSI official who is a guard had been questioned.
Meanwhile, Mr. Thawatchai’s body is being kept at the Thammasat Hospital morgue in Pathum Thani after his cremation was postponed by the Justice Ministry .
Thawatchai’s family on Thursday agreed to postpone the cremation indefinitely until the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death were cleared up.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had instructed authorities concerned to ensure transparency in the probe, while urging the public not to rush to conclusions.
Gen Prayut said authorities concerned are pursuing the cases and action would be taken against those implicated in any wrongdoing, including both state officials and investors.
Pol Maj Gen Charoen Sirsaslak, Commander of Metropolitan Police Division 2, said the division has launched a probe into Thawatchai’s death.
Source: Phuket News, The Nation, Thai PBS
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