6 June 2024

The Royal Thai Army has launched an investigation into the death, thought to be a suicide, of a conscript at the 23rd Army Circle in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen.

Army Commander-in-Chief, General Narongphan Chitkaewtae, also ordered a disciplinary probe into the conduct of the dead victim’s immediate superior, Private Rachot Senasanit, for failing to report the death to his commander immediately.

Private Pichawat Wiangnon was found dead in a pavilion, in the middle of a pond in the army prison at the 23rd Army Circle, on the morning of November 1st.

Lt-Gen Santipong Thampiya, spokesman for the army, said that the conscript was assigned to perform a duty at the prison and that there was no immediate sign of foul play. The body was sent to Srinakharin Hospital for autopsy.

He said that a fact-finding committee has been set up and relatives of the victim have been notified. A funeral was held for the victim and his family has been compensated.

Last week, the family of another conscript, who was claimed, by his superior, to have committed suicide in the barracks, lodged a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division police, seeking an investigation into the death.

The family suspect that Pichawat did not hang himself, in the toilet of the guard’s kiosk at Prasert Songkhram barracks in Roi-et, as claimed by his commander.

Mr. Ronnarong Kaewpetch, chair of a social justice network, said that Pvt Pichawat escaped from the army camp and returned the next morning. The following day his family was notified that he had hanged himself in a toilet, but the family suspect that there was foul play, while insisting that there was no reason for the conscript to take his own life.

The victim’s body has been sent to the Forensic Science Institute of the Justice Ministry, at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus, for autopsy.

In addition to Pichawat and Rachot, two other privates have also died recently under suspicious circumstances in military barracks.