Chainarong Anukul, a younger brother of Tawatchai, said the family has decided to put off the cremation which had been planned for yesterday (Sept 1) to wait for a complete forensic report.
The decision followed growing criticism that the funeral services for Tawatchai, who was alleged to have been involved in the unlawful issuance of land deeds for wealthy people, was being rushed. Mr Chainarong admitted that the cremation has been postponed in part due to the criticism that the family might have been paid to keep their mouths shut. He said he will seek justice for his brother and wait for clearer details about the death.
“Even if there was evidence implicating him, he should have been punished according to the law. The way he died ... I don’t think I can accept it,” he said.
Tawatchai, 66, was arrested in Nonthaburi province on Monday (Aug 29) after having been on the run for almost a decade for his alleged role in numerous land fraud cases in Phuket and Phang Nga.
He allegedly tried to commit suicide by hanging himself with a pair of socks while being detained on the sixth floor of the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI) head office on Chaeng Watthana Rd in the early hours of Tuesday (Aug 30). He died later at the nearby Mongkutwattana Hospital.
According to Mr Chainarong, no legal proceedings will be initiated until the forensic examination is completed. The process is expected to take about 45 days while the Police General Hospital’s Institute of Forensic Medicine has yet to release an official autopsy result.
He said the document issued by the Police General Hospital indicates only the cause of death: “Abdominal haemorrhaging and a ruptured liver from being hit by a solid, blunt object together with asphyxiation from hanging”.
The document triggered speculation over whether Tawatchai actually tried to commit suicide.
Mr Chainarong said he has a number of questions about the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death, including the socks. He said Tawatchai’s socks were short and were unlikely to be used to kill himself in such a manner.
He said the DSI allowed him to look at footage from security cameras, but the footage did not show what happened in the detention room. The DSI claimed it did not monitor the room because of human rights concerns.
Rienthong Nanna, director of Mongkutwattana Hospital, said yesterday that it was not possible that CPR had caused liver injuries because the procedure only involved the heart and lungs.
On his Facebook page, he said the DSI informed the hospital at 1:10am on Tuesday that Tawatchai had been found unconscious and asked for an emergency team which arrived at 1:15am and discovered Tawatchai in critical condition.
According to Dr Rienthong, the DSI did not inform the hospital that Thawatchai hanged himself.
The emergency team performed CPR and rushed him to the hospital’s emergency room at 1:33am. “At 2:40am the man was moved to the intensive care unit. His condition kept deteriorating. [The medical team] continued to perform CPR but the man died at 4:45am,” he said.
“The resuscitation did not cause a ruptured liver or abdominal bleeding ... Mongkutwattana Hospital has no idea why Tawatchai’s liver was ruptured. That question must go to the doctor who examined the body,” Dr Riengthong said.
In a press conference, he said the doctors found red marks around Tawatchai’s neck, but his condition was critical so they focused on CPR.
National Institute for Emergency Medicine secretary-general Anucha Sethsathien also confirmed Dr Riengthong’s opinion, saying while CPR could break some ribs, it could not damage the liver.
Col Mana Pohchuay, superintendent of Thung Song Hong police station in charge of the investigation into Tawatchai’s death, said police will wrap up the investigation within 30 days.
He said police have not yet received a detailed autopsy report.
He said police have questioned a DSI official in charge of the detention room and will question two other people, a staff member of Mongkutwattana Hospital and one of the victim’s family before they can determine if it was a suicide.
Col Paisit said the DSI’s internal probe into Tawatchai’s death will be completed in seven days.
Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, former director of the Justice Ministry’s Institute of Forensic Science, yesterday declined to discuss the case, saying it is better to wait for the details to be released.
Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya pledged to take action if the probe into Tawatchai’s death suggests foul play.
He urged all parties involved to wait for the forensic examination by the Institute of Forensic Medicine while noting that the victim’s family should be allowed to take part in the probe to ensure transparency.
Gen Paiboon said he has ordered authorities to look thoroughly into all the cases related to Tawatchai.
“Anti-money laundering measures will be used to trace the money trail. There are questions about why the assets were not confiscated for all these years,” he said.
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