Somnuak Siengkong said the indictments were ordered on Friday (July 8) by Natthajak Patama-singh na Ayudhya, director-general of the OAG’s Department of Criminal Litigation. Prosecutors are expected to indict the suspects – six men aged 18-22 and one of their teen girlfriends – tomorrow (July 13).
The decision came after the family and supporters of the victim, Somkiat Srichan, 36, had petitioned Chokechai police investigators, who supervised the case; national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda and the OAG to bring a premeditated murder charge against the suspects.
According to Thai laws, a premeditated or first-degree murder is punishable only with death and clear evidence of planning is required such as contract killing or the use of hitmen. The sentence cannot be commuted.
On the other hand, a murder charge (second-degree murder) carries the maximum penalty of death but lighter penalties are possible, ranging from 15 years to life in prison, depending on judges’ discretion.
The charges of premeditated murder could not be brought against the suspects because they acted on the spur of the moment and had not planned to do so, Mr Somnuak quoted Mr Natthajak as saying.
The violence erupted after the six male suspects, four of whom were the sons of policemen, made fun of Somkiat’s pronounced limp and became angry when he retorted. They allegedly attacked the father of two with long knives and a brick and killed him with a stab in the neck. The incident occurred on May 1 in Soi Chokechai 4 in front of his sister’s bread shop where he worked.
Video clips of the deadly assault stirred outrage on social media, with people expressing fear the young men will get away with the murder because they are the sons of police, or receive only a light punishment.
The supporters of Somkiat’s family launched a social media campaign for justice and called on authorities to press a charge of premeditated murder against the youngsters. But police insisted the evidence did not support the charge and they could not give in to social pressure or get in trouble for filing an exaggerated charge against a suspect without solid grounds.
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