“Police are also investigating whether any other persons are to be held accountable,”deputy national police chief Pol Maj Gen Suchart Theerasawat announced at Phuket City Police Station this afternoon (Aug 24).
Maj Gen Suchart flew to Phuket today to be updated in person about the case. Present at the meeting this afternoon were Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Rungrote Thakurapunyasiri, Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commanders Col Witoon Kongsudjai and Pol Col Arayaphan Phukbuakhao, Phuket City Police Chief Col Teerawat Liamsuwan and the team of police officers tasked with investigating Nong Mint’s death.
Maj Gen Suchart said today that he was representing the interests of the Royal Thai Police, and monitoring the progress in the investigation.
Nong Mint, a Phuket native, was enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts Thai-language program under the Faculty of Humanities. She began her studies at the campus in June.
She collapsed while running during a training session with the cheerleading squad, led by senior students, at the campus last Wednesday evening.
initial reports in the media consistently reported that Nong Mint collapsed after completing five of eight laps around the campus pond, as ordered by a senior in the cheerleading squad. Each lap of the pond is about one kilometre long.
However, a student yesterday gave a timeline of events that matched the university’s public statement, that Nong Mint collapsed after only a few hundred metres while completing several laps around the car park area where the cheerleading practice was being held.
Maj Gen Suchart said today that this particular factor was being investigated thoroughly by police.
“There are no CCTV cameras covering the area in question [where Nong Mint collapsed]. There are CCTV cameras inside the building, but they do not cover the area in question,” he said.
Students, especially those involved in the cheerleading practice, as well as doctors, had already co-operated with police and given witness statements, he said.
“We cannot reveal what they said in their statements as the investigation is still ongoing,” he said.
The statements did include testimonies about what activities were ordered and how far the students were ordered to run, he added.
"Now there is evidence to report that one female senior student has been charged with negligence resulting in the death of another person,” Maj Gen Suchart said.
The student had already surrendered to investigating officers, but had denied any negligent action, he noted.
“Whether the person will be allowed temporary release is at the discretion of the investigation officers,” he added.
“The senior student acknowledged that the actual activities [leading to Nong Mint’s death] were organised, but denied that the act was [culpable of] recklessness causing death,” Maj Gen Suchart explained.
“Officers have to investigate further and gather evidence to determine whether or not the act is to be deemed negligent or not, and whether it caused the death,” he said.
Other people are also under investigation for their possible action or inaction that may have led to Nong Mint’s death, Maj Gen Suchart added.
“At this stage, we do not know how many people it will be as the results of the medical examination are not finished and the questioning of the relevant students and faculty members is not yet complete,” he said.
Maj Gen Suchart cautioned all people against making presumptions about the case.
“It is the right of each person to testify, and the investigating officers must act in accordance with the law to determine whether the issues of forcefulness and negligence led to the death or injury of another person,” he said.
“This investigation requires subtlety. The person had no intention of [Nong Mint] dying, but there is the question of whether it was a reckless act and whether or not proper first aid was provided,” he added.
“As for [reports that Nong Mint was] running at the parking lot, and had run not more than 200 meters, instead of around the pond [before she collapsed], that is now under investigation.
“Also, friends of the students and seniors have given statements confirming that the student had performed the same activity before and had no problems, but we must uncover all the evidence from others,” Maj Gen Suchart said.
Maj Gen Suchart also cautioned against presumptions of the medical cause of death, as Nong Mint’s death has repeatedly been reported as heart failure.
“This is a personal opinion, not a medical opinion. We will not know for sure until the medical examination is completed,” he said.
"This case should take a short time to process, and if the medical results come quickly, the case can be prosecuted and closed,” Maj Gen Suchart added.
“This story is of great interest to relatives of the deceased and the media,” he noted, adding that Phuket Provincial Police have been instructed to co-ordinate with Phuket Rajabhat University to prevent any further fatal incidents.
“Guidelines must be laid out and presented to the Governor so they can be implemented at all educational institutions. The guidelines set out at Phuket Rajabhat University will be presented to the Ministry of Education to be applied as safety guidelines for activities at other educational institutions,” he said.