CIFS Director tries to explain delay in cadet autopsy

The director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) has clarified that the chemical required to complete the autopsy of the freshman cadet recently died in a military academy has not run out as reported in the media.

CIFS Director Somn Promaros announced on 3 December 2017 that the delay in the autopsy of Cadet Phakhaphong Tanyakan was not due to a shortage of a formalin material used to preserve samples of his organs as reported on many media outlets.

He clarified that the delay was in fact due to the complicated procedures which would take longer than expected because much of the organ tissue of the late cadet was damaged because it had been preserved in formalin for a long time.

Somn added that a special chemical called ‘Formalin-fixed Paraffin-embedded (FFPE)’ is required for the procedure, adding that the first stage is to prove whether the organs belong to the late cadet or not.

In fact, Formalin-fixed Paraffin-embedded (FFPE) is a technical term used to describe tissue samples that have been preserved by fixing them in formalin and embedding them in paraffin wax, a standard procedure.  FFPE is not a chemical.

He said it would take 7-15 more days to complete the autopsy.

Further delays only fuel suspicions among family and observers about the cause of death

It was reported on 30 November, the day the autopsy result was expected, that the CIFS had run out of the special formalin material required for the process.

On 20 November 2017, the parents of Phakhaphong, a freshman cadet who died on 17 October, told the media that their son may have been beaten to death. This is in contrast to the military’s previous explanation that Phakhaphong died from “sudden cardiac arrest”.

Pichet and Sukanya Tanyakan said that after their son’s death the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School sent them only Phakhaphong’s death certificate without further details, informing the couple that the official autopsy report would take two months.

Phakhaphong’s family at his funeral (Photo from Thairath)