Military only providing security, the Corrections Department chief says
AFTER TWO lese majeste suspects died mysteriously while under detention at a special prison in the 11th Military Circle’s compound, the Corrections Department last Thursday took the media on a tour of the secretive facility.
Pol Major Prakrom Warunprapa was found hanged in his cell in late October and his alleged accomplice fortune-teller Suriyan “Mor Yong” Sujaritpalawong was found infected with a blood disease. Mor Yong died in a hospital early last month.
Wittaya Suriyawong, director-general of the department, allowed the journalists to observe but not to take photos, carry any communication device or talk with the inmates.
The detention centre has five cells but prison warden Boonrak Boonyathikan told the visitors that the department has approved Bt500,000 to remodel the facility for six more cells so it would have 11 cells ready to support an increase in court orders.
At the 1st Company building’s left wing, a room under the stairs was modified into a cell where Mor Yong was held, but was now occupied by his secretary Jirawong Wattanathewasilp.
The 10-square-metre room was equipped with iron bars, mosquito net, fluorescent light and ceiling fan. It was furnished with a bed, complete with a mattress, pillow and blanket, and a reading desk with some books and a bottle of water and a glass in one corner.
In front of the cell was a three-drawer cabinet to store the inmate’s uniform, dishes and spoons. A toilet-and-shower room with no door was in the area. Two guards would usher the inmate to the toilet upon request.
The inmate would be required to stay at a certain spot where officials could observe him at all times, to prevent escape, self-inflicted injuries and sickness.
The inmates are allowed one hour of exercise per day. One inmate at a time would be sent to the gym, a space with two pieces of abdomen-workoutequipment, to prevent them from talking to one another.
At the Sixth Company building, a cell surrounded by barbed wire was used to house Pol Sgt-Major Prathin Chanket, a suspect in the “Khon Kaen model” case, also involving charges of lese majeste. This was where Prakrom allegedly took his own life.
Officials told the media that Prakrom’s body was in a blind corner. On that day, a guard called out his name because he couldn’t see him and told him to stay at the spot where he could be seen, but got no reply.
The guard then went to get the key and unlocked the cell. A guard would check on the cell every hour, but wouldn’t carry the key in case of a fight to steal it.
At the Fifth Company building, a cell was used to hold Nattaphol Nawanlay, another Khon Kaen model suspect.
The main building has a cell shared by Bilal Mohammed, an Erawan Shrine bombing suspect, and Pahiran Kongkham, another Khon Kaen model suspect. The ganging up was necessary because of an insufficient number of modified rooms.
This building also had a break room for the inmates to meet their lawyer and a different room for them to meet their relatives.
The officials didn’t take the journalists to see the cell where Erawan Shrine bombing suspect Mieraili Yusufu and “Khon Kaen model” suspect Wallop Boonchan were detained together.
The inmates receive a health check-up twice a week and, in case of emergency, there were military doctors standing by at the facility around the clock.
The inmates were not given vocational training as they were pending trial.
Wittaya said this media visit was aimed at showing the detention conditions. A suspect’s custody would end when the prosecutor pressed charges in court, after which he would be transferred to the civilian remand prison.
The Erawan bombing case should be filed in court by February 16, he said.
“The military personnel are merely providing security around the premises and support in flight prevention,” he said.
This facility was more convenient than other normal prisons because there were few detainees, so they could be kept separate. A toilet could also be provided in a cell.