No cremation until investigation completed: mother of dead soldier

Believing that her son was beaten to death in a military base, the mother of a 22-year-old private has vowed not to cremate the body until the investigation into her son’s death is complete.

Private Yutthakinan Bunniam of Vibhavadee Rangsit Military Base in southern Surat Thani Province died on 1 April 2017, after being taken to hospital from the military base the day before.

The late private was earlier detained in a military prison within the base for allegedly violating discipline.

Renu Motrakhi, the mother of Yutthakinan, told the media that according to the results of the post mortem, her son died from a violent physical assault which led to kidney malfunction, adding that the complete examination results will be announced on 3 April.

She believes that her son was beaten while detained in the military prison.

Renu said she was informed that Yutthakinan was taken to the hospital on 31 April when she went to the military base to visit her son after many attempts to call him had failed.

Once at the hospital, she barely recognised her son as his face was swollen and his body was covered with bruises.

Military officers informed her that her son was beaten outside the military base.

After news of Yutthakinan’s death made headlines, Gen Chalermchai Sittisat, Chief of the Royal Thai Army, ordered an investigation into the case, promising that the officers responsible for the death would face severe punishment.

Yutthakinan’s family said they will not cremate the body until the investigation is completed.

Allegations of torture against draftees in Thai military bases are not new and occur regularly.

On 4 April 2016, Private Songtham Mutmat, 23, from Phayak Military Camp in Bannang Sata District of the restive Deep South province of Yala, died after he was beaten by senior officers.

The army claimed that the late private was beaten for abusing drugs at the military base. However, a friend who survived the beating maintained that Pvt Songtham did not abuse drugs, but was punished for having a fight with another soldier who allegedly stole money from him.

In another gruesome case in June 2011, Wichian Puaksom, 26, a conscript in the Deep South province of Narathiwat, died after alleged brutal torture by about 10 soldiers.

An investigation by the 4th Army Region found that Wichian was severely tortured by other soldiers and his superiors after he was accused of running away from military training.

Photos of Private Yutthakinun Booniam before and after being beaten