The suspect, who had been detained on charges of allegedly issuing unlawful land ownership documents in Phuket and Phang Nga, was found hanging in a detention room on the sixth floor of the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI) headquarters in the early hours of Aug 30.
A previous autopsy conducted at the Police General Hospital revealed Mr Tawatchai suffered abdominal haemorrhaging and had a ruptured liver, possibly as a result of being hit by a solid, blunt object.
This led to questions being raised over whether Mr Tawatchai really committed suicide as claimed by the DSI or died from injuries after a physical assault.
Wisit Wisitsora-at, director-general of the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, is chairman of the committee.
He said forensic experts will have to go over the forensic evidence received.
A more precise test is still needed to clearly determine the cause of Mr Tawatchai’s death, he said.
The committee will ask the Central Institute of Forensic Science to conduct a CT scan on Mr Tawatchai’s body to examine the skeleton, said Mr Wisit.
The committee consists of two teams. One is responsible for processing information gathered from the pathological test on the body and the other for compiling evidence and witness accounts that will be analysed along with the forensic evidence, he said.
More information on the cause of Mr Tawatchai’s death is expected to come from the next meeting of the committee next Tuesday (Sept 27), he said.
According to prior statements from the DSI, Mr Tawatchai lost consciousness when officials entered his room and found him hanging from a door hinge. A nurse and assistants were immediately called in to give him first aid before he was rushed to nearby Mongkutwattana Hospital.
Mr Wisit said a preliminary conclusion points to a ruptured liver as the cause of death, but he refused to confirm the findings until further examinations are conducted.
The committee will conclude the cause of death once it is certain it has all the results, he said.
Members yesterday (Sept 20) met five experts on abdominal cavity treatment to discuss the findings from the committee’s investigation.
The experts were Dr Parinya Tawichaikarn, chairman of the Royal Collage of Surgeons of Thailand; Dr Preecha Sirithongthawon, a specialist on trauma surgery from Siriraj Hospital; Dr Ratphli Phak-at, a trauma surgery specialist from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine; Dr Sophon Krisanarangsan, adviser to the Thai Resuscitation Council; and Dr Parinya Khunawut, chairman of the same council.
Last month, the DSI admitted that some security cameras installed near Mr Tawatchai’s detention room did not work properly, with DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang saying there was “only a fault in recording images”.
The department had hired a company to reinstall the recording system in May, and the work is expected to end on Oct 27, he said.
Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said though it was plausible the DSI’s security camera system failed to capture the events surrounding Mr Tawatchai’s death, DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang owed the public an explanation as to why it was faulty.
He expects the ministry panel probing Mr Tawatchai’s death to complete its task within 15 days, saying only the forensic evidence could determine the cause of death as there was no witnesses to the alleged suicide.
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