Soldier dead in training ‘drowned for at least 5 mins’: doctors

Doctors who examined the body of a soldier who allegedly died from ill-treatment during military training testified that he was left drowning for at least five minutes.

The Civil Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, held witness hearings from 13-15 June 2017 on the death of Sub Lt Sanan Thongdinok, who drowned to death on 6 June 2015 while swimming as part of the King’s Guard Regiment training course.

According to the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), an advocacy group promoting human rights and cultural diversity, he was forced to swim back and forth repeatedly by a trainer at the 1st Infantry Regiment King’s Own Guard in Bangkok until he became too tired and drowned before trainers could rescue him.

On 13 June, a doctor from the Veterans General Hospital, Bangkok, who treated Sanan when he was sent to the emergency ward testified that he died from drowning for about 10 minutes. Water and scraps of food were found in his windpipe and larynx.

Another doctor from the Central Institute of Forensic Science (Thailand) who performed a post-mortem examination of the body testified on 15 June that the soldier died from being submerged for longer than five minutes, causing heart failure, hypoxia and bleeding in the brain, liver, and kidneys, adding that his head had also sustained bruises from being hit with a blunt object.

A normal person can signal to others when he is no longer able to swim any further, the doctor pointed out.  

Thanyarat Wannasathit, Sanan’s wife, believes that her late husband died because of the negligence of the swimming trainer.

She told the court on 14 June that according to Sunan’s soldier friend, the trainer hit Sanan with a rope to force him to continue swimming.

Thanyarat added that the trainer was also in the swimming pool, but did not help Sanan when he was drowning.  

Thanyarat and Wan Thongdinok, Sanan’s mother, cast doubt over the absence of other military officers who participated in the training course and a medical officer on duty that day whom the court earlier summoned to testify as witnesses. The lawyer for the two submitted a request to the court to summon them again.

The Civil Court has scheduled the next witness hearing on the case from 14-16 November 2017.

Sub Lt Sanan Thongdinok (Photo from CrCF


Read earlier report on the case: Thai soldier allegedly dies from ill-treatment during training


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