11 July 2024

Dismissed former superintendent of Nakhon Sawan police, Thitisan “Joe Ferrari” Uttanaphon and five former subordinates were sentenced to life in prison today (Wednesday), in connection with the death by torture of a drug suspect in their custody at the Muang district police station in August last year.

A seventh police officer was given five years and four months, because he was not involved in the fatal torture of the victim.

All seven former officers were found guilty of multiple offences by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases this morning, including murder by torture, malfeasance in office and coercion.

Thitisan who confessed to all charges except murder by torture, and the five former subordinates were initially sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment, with the court citing their attempts to try to resuscitate the victim, having him taken to hospital, their useful testimonies and their contribution towards the funeral costs and compensation for the victim’s family in mitigation.

The cases date back to August 5th last year, when suspect Jirapong Thanapat, who had been arrested the previous day in possession of some illegal narcotics, was interrogated at the police station, during which he fell unconscious and was later pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

A video clip, which was posted on social media, shows that Jirapong was tortured during interrogation. The police involved, including Thitisan, were accused of using several layers of plastic bags to cover the head of the suspect.

The police claimed that the suspect tried to escape and accidentally fell down and collapsed, but an autopsy showed that he died of suffocation.

The controversial video clip went viral, provoking public uproar over the police brutality against a suspect in detention and widespread demands for justice.

On August 22nd, Thitisan was transferred from Nakhon Sawan’s Muaang district office to the operations centre of Region 6 Provincial Police Bureau. He did not, however, report to the operations centre.

An arrest warrant was issued, but Thitisan surrendered on August 26th at Saen Suk police station in Chon Buri province.

A high-profile police officer with a penchant for luxury, Thitisan rose to fame for being responsible for the seizure for more than 400 smuggled luxurious cars, mostly from Malaysia, during his police career. A total of 24 expensive vehicles, worth about 70 million baht were found at his luxury mansion in a Bangkok suburb last year. They were all confiscated.