Six army officers to be jailed for beating new recruit to death

Six soldiers are to be jailed for beating to death a military recruit in the Deep South of Thailand.

Thapanee Letsrichai, a journalist of Channel 3, reported via her Facebook profile on Wednesday, 6 April 2016, that Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, Commander of the 15th Infantry Division in the Deep Southern Province of Pattani, said that the Army will imprison for 30 days Sub-Lieutenant Phattanat Loetchaikun, a soldier involved in the beating of Private Songtham Mutmat and Private Chatphisut Chumphan, army draftees at Payak Military Base in Yala.

The General told the media that two other non-commissioned officers and three privates will face similar jail terms, adding that the six soldiers will also be suspended from the Army and charged with criminal offences after completion of the investigation into the beating which led to the death of Pte Songtham.   

He further said that the Army will try to come up with measures to prevent such beatings in the future.

On Monday, Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesperson of the Royal Thai Army, announced that the Royal Thai Army is sorry for the death of Pvt Songtham.

Col Winthai announced that the Pvt Songtham was beaten by other officers as punishment for a serious disciplinary offence, adding that he was guilty of drug abuse at the military base.

According to Pvt Chaiphisut, a friend of the late private who survived the beating, however, maintain that Pvt Songtham did not abuse drugs, but was punished for having a fight with another soldier who allegedly stole money from him.

Refuting Col Winthai’s claim, Manop Sonthong, Songtham’s uncle, said that he does not believe that Songtham committed such a crime although he admitted that his nephew has a record of drug abuse, BBC Thai reported.

“It might be that one of the officers wanted to borrow 5,000 baht from Pvt Songtham which he had prepared for his mother, but the next day the money was gone. When Pvt Songtham approached the officer to try to get the money back it ended up in a fight. Later, he was punished at the order of a Sub-Lieutenant notorious for abusing soldiers,” BBC Thai quoted Manop as saying.