Wife of lèse majesté convict sues Corrections Department over husband’s death

The wife of Ah Kong, the elderly lèse majesté convict who died of cancer while in custody in 2012, continues to pursue a case against the Department of Corrections of Thailand at the Civil Court over her husband's death.

The Civil Court on Monday, 17 August 2015, held a pretrial hearing on the death in custody of Ampon Tangnoppakul, aka Ah Kong, who in late 2011 was sentenced to twenty years in prison under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for allegedly sending four SMS messages with anti-monarchy content.

Rosmalin Tangnoppakul, Ah Kong’s wife, who is the plaintiff in the case, earlier filed the case against the Department of Corrections at the Administrative Court. However, the court transferred the case to the Civil Court.

The widow is demanding compensation of 2,070,000 baht (about USD 58500) from the Department of Corrections over the death of her husband.  

She accuses the prison authorities of negligence over the health conditions of prisoners resulting in the death of her husband, which violates Article 51 of the 2007 Constitution on the rights to public health provisions and Article 32 on the rights and liberty of individuals. She also requested the authorities concerned to compensate her for the cost of Ah Kong’s funeral.

The Civil Court will rule on whether to accept the case or not on 19 October 2015.         

In 2013, a formal inquiry into Ah Kong’s death concluded that although he died in custody, no one could be held responsible for his death.

Ah Kong died at the age of 62 behind bars on 8 May 2012 after suffering from metastatic cancer. His death while in prison prompted public outrage about the logic of harsh sentences for alleged crimes of lèse majesté and concern about whether or not the prison healthcare conditions met minimum international standards.

Rosmalin Tangnoppakul (left) and Anon Numpa, the lawyer in the case