By PIYANUCH THAMNUKASETCHAI,
THREE FORENSIC doctors have joined the Justice Ministry’s investigation into the mysterious death of a key suspect in a land-deed registration case.
Tawatchai Anukul, 66, died from his injuries while in the custody of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on August 30, and police are now investigating if it was suicide as claimed by DSI officials or murder.
An initial autopsy concluded that his liver had been ruptured and had suffered asphyxiation.
It has been widely speculated that Tawatchai may have been silenced before he could implicate others involved in the illegal issuance of title deeds for land in Phuket and Phang Nga provinces.
Charnchao Chaiyanukij, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, set up a committee yesterday to find the cause of the suspect’s death.
Wisit Wisitsora-at, director-general of the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, will lead the committee. Pol Maj-General Dr Vichan Peonim, chief of Ramathibodi Hospital’s forensic medicine unit, Assoc Prof Dr Visutr Fongsiripailbul from Siriraj Hospital and Asst Prof Dr Udomsak Hoonwijit from Chulalongkorn Hospital have been taken on as additional experts.
“The committee needs to also determine if any DSI official had a hand in Tawatchai’s death. It has 15 days to complete its mission,” Charnchao said.
He added that any official found guilty would face disciplinary action. “If the wrongdoing is criminal in nature, he will also face criminal proceedings,” Charnchao said.
He said the investigation was an internal process of the Justice Ministry, which oversees the DSI, and was separate from the ongoing police probe.
Chayapol Wancha-aim, head of the DSI suspect-control division, testified about the case at the Thung Song Hong Police Station yesterday.
“I was shocked by the incident. Such a thing had never happened at the DSI before. I have been with the agency for seven years now,” he said.
He added that he was mainly in charge of reviewing suspects’ documents before they were sent to detention cells.
Chayapol said police had also summoned two other DSI officials, his deputy Pol Lt-Colonel Pairoj Laorattananurak and security guard Sommart Nakwong, in relation to the case.
Pol Colonel Komsak Sumang-kaset, the deputy chief of Metropolitan Police Division 2, said the investigation was already more than 50-per-cent complete. “According to DSI officials, Tawatchai was not behaving suspiciously when they looked in on him about an hour or two hours before he allegedly hanged himself,” Komsak said.
Police have also summoned two medical workers from Mongkutwattana General Hospital to testify tomorrow. Hospital staff tried to save Tawatchai’s life after being called by DSI officers.
Police will also have DSI officials re-enact events on August 30 near Tawatchai’s detention cell.