By PIYANUCH THAMNUKASETCHAI
THE DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation (DSI) has admitted that it has no CCTV footage of the events surrounding the suspicious death of Tawatchai Anukul in a DSI cell because it claimed the system’s server is faulty.
Police are investigating the death of Tawatchai, 66, to determine whether he was murdered in custody or committed suicide, as initially claimed by the DSI. He succumbed to a ruptured liver and asphyxiation a day after DSI officials arrested him on August 29.
Public doubts have been growing following the incident, particularly after the DSI failed to present recordings from its CCTV.
“Our CCTV system, which is linked to 49 security cameras, has worked properly but its server is faulty. It can’t efficiently record what happened,” DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang announced at a press conference yesterday.
He said the DSI had discovered the server problem in April this year and had signed a contract to improve the whole CCTV system on May 30.
“Under the contract, the improvement will be completed by October 27,” Paisit said. “During the improvement, the CCTV system can only provide real-time monitoring”.
He explained that the DSI did not comment on Tawatchai’s case over the past 10 days because police and the fact-finding committee set up by the Justice Ministry were investigating the suspicious death.
“But I can tell you that such an incident had never happened at the DSI before, and that the DSI has no need to protect wrongdoing officials, if any,” Paisit said.
He said the socks allegedly used by Tawatchai to hang himself were of shank-length, adding that they appeared ankle-length because they were loose.
According to the Mongkutwattana General Hospital, the DSI called for help in the early hours of August 30, reporting that a suspect had fainted and became unconscious. They learned from news reports later that the DSI claimed Tawatchai had hanged himself with his socks.
Tawatchai was accused of issuing illegal title deeds worth more than Bt10 billion. Given the extent of his alleged crimes, there was widespread speculation that he might have been silenced before he could implicate his accomplices.
Paisit said, “After 6pm, people can enter the DSI facility via the door on the ground floor only. Importantly, the entrance door will open to just authorised persons by checking their key ID cards.” He added that only one elevator was allowed to operate after 6pm.
As well, only authorised officials using key ID cards could enter the electronically locked gate at the detention-cell zone.
“The detention cells are locked. Safety locks are in place and only officials hold keys to the cells,” he said.
Paisit said he had already forwarded to police recordings from the ground floor cameras and still photos showing how medical help was given to Tawatchai inside the DSI facility on August 30.
An informed source said the recordings showed the ambulance arrived at DSI at 1.17am and the medical team rushed into the elevator. “The elevator opened its door again at 1.24am with the team rushing out with a patient. The ambulance left at 1.27am,” the source said.
Police interrogated two security guards of the DSI again yesterday.