The noodle vendor, Aroon Thongplab, was shot in the stomach by Cpl Pornthep Channarong of the Phuket Provincial Police just before 6am on Feb 23 attack while he was walking along the street after collecting a noodle bowl from a customer.
In less than 24 hours Pornthep was quickly stripped of his rank and discharged from the Royal Thai Police, and now faces charges of attempted murder, carring a firearm in a public area without necessary reason, and firing a weapon in a public area.
Aroon has been receiving treatment at Vachira Phuket Hospital, where he finally woke from a coma, but remained paralysed as the bullet fired from close range had hit his spine.
Doctors have now told Mr Aroon’s wife, Kulthida Chananan, 26, that he husband will not walk again.
“Doctors have confirmed to me that he will not be able walk again because the nerve in his spine was torn apart,” Ms Kulthida told The Phuket News yesterday (Apr 6).
“He cannot feel or move the lower part from his waist. Doctors just gave him spine surgery last week, so that he can sit. However, the doctors cannot assure that the surgery will work. We have to wait to see if his recovery goes well along with physiotherapy,” she said.
“At this stage, he is still in the Intensive Care Unit at Vachira Phuket Hospital. He has not been able to speak because he still has a tube [intubated into his throat] to assist his breathing. His lungs have improved without any internal bleeding. He is conscious and able to move his hands a little bit, but we have to read his month to understand what he wants to say,” Ms Kulthida explained.
Bringing formal charges against Pornthep have been slow, Ms Kulthida confirmed.
“I have already asked Patong Police, and they told me that at this stage the report to file [with the public prosecutor] is about 90% complete. I am also waiting for a notice from the court,’ she said.
“Today [April 6] officers from Region 8 Police came to the hospital to question Aroon, but he has not been able to speak,” she added.
“I asked them about the bail conditions, and they told me that the suspect is still in jail,” she said.
However, it has yet to be explained whether Pornthep was actually released on bail and later taken back into custody following a formal request by Ms Kulthida, or never released at all.
Ms Kulthida pointed out that without the intense media coverage that ensued in the aftermath of her husband being shot by a drunken police officer, interest in her case by officials had faded.
“On the first day, Region 8 Police gave me flowers and B20,000 cash, and Phuket Provincial Police gave me B10,000. After that some officials contacted me, but I have not received any news from them for a while. I do not know if they are working on my case or not,” she said.
“I’m a normal person. I do not know which official to ask for help. My husband’s case gained attention for a while, but after that no one contacted me,” she added.
Ms Kulthida has been struggling to cope with the burden of dealing with officials while coping with the traumatic situation and already suffering financially.
“Ever since my husband was shot about a month and two weeks ago, my mum and I have not been able to return to selling noodles because I am busy filing documents with officials and visiting Aroon at the hospital,” Ms Kulthida said.
“It’s all down to me who is responsible for filing documents with officials, so I have to let my relatives take care of my children,” she explained.
Mr Aroon and Ms Kulthida have two children: a 4-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son.
Asked what assistance high-profile rights lawyer Kerdphol Kaewkerd from Bangkok was continuing to provide, Ms Kulthida said, “He often calls me. He said he is also waiting for a notice from the court. So mostly, he just asks about Aroon’s condition.”
During talks with Mr Kerdphol on Mar 2, Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabodi promised to help Mr Aroon’s family.
However, called by The Phuket News yesterday (Apr 6), Col Sujin was only willing to say, “Police have already concluded the investigation and will file the report to the public prosecutor next week.”
Col Sujin then terminated the conversation, saying that he was busy.