By The Nation
Pol Colonel Narat Savettanan, director-general of the Corrections Department, said Krit Wongwet, the commander of the Samut Prakan Central Prison, and four officials have been transferred pending a fact-finding and disciplinary probes.
The inmate died on Wednesday after he and 17 other inmates were allegedly beaten by prison guards after some drugs were found in the prison.
The Police Hospital’s Forensic Medicine Institute conducted an autopsy and reported that the man died of suffocation due to choking on food, but noted that his body had a lot of bruise marks. His wrists also had red marks, indicating that they had been tied.
Narat said he had seen photos of injury traces on the body. He had also received a report from the prison chief stating that the dead inmate was allegedly involved in drug smuggling and that the penalty might have got out of control.
“I am sorry for what happened. I hereby affirm that the Corrections Department has no policy to torture inmates,” Narat said.
He said he has demanded a written explanation from the Samut Prakan prison chief.
“I saw that this was a severe disciplinary offence. I hereby affirm that the Corrections Department attaches importance to the human rights of inmates. We don’t support beatings that lead to death, and we don’t overlook such incidents,” Narat added.
Narat also attended the funeral service of the dead innate at Wat Thung Khruru in Bangkok’s Thung Khuru district at 7.30pm on Friday. He gave a wreath and some money to the wife of the inmate.
After the funeral service, Narat told reporters that the prison chief had been moved to an inactive post within the department. Two of the officials were moved to Thon Buri prison and two others to Chachoengsao prison.
Narat said the department would set up a fact-finding panel to investigate the five officials. If there were evidence that they had committed disciplinary offences, a severe disciplinary probe would be conducted. He said the severest penalty available was dismissal from service.
Narat said the department would cooperate with police conducting an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killing.
Narat said he has learned that the four officials were normally hard working and had enforced the law strictly.
He said prison officials should have alerted police to take legal action when drugs were detected in the prison. Prison officials could also use administrative measures to punish inmates, such as reducing their status and prohibiting visits by relatives, instead of using force against them.