Lawyer demands more info on activist’s death as PM expresses sorrow


Srettha orders transparent probe into Netiporn’s death, people push for release of other lese majeste prisoners

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed sorrow at the death of political activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, while a human rights lawyer demanded a better explanation of what was done to save her.

Netiporn was pronounced dead at 11.12am on Tuesday at Thammasat Hospital after her heart stopped working. She was initially being treated at the Medical Correctional Institution after being weakened by months of going hungry to protest against the denial of bail for lese majeste prisoners.

“It is sad. Nobody wanted this loss to happen. I want to extend my condolences to her family,” Srettha said, adding that he has instructed Justice Minister Thawee Sodsong to thoroughly investigate the cause of her death and produce scientific evidence. “I’m confident we will find justice,” the PM said.

Lawyer demands more info on activist’s death as PM expresses sorrow

Netiporn’s death has led to intensified calls for the release of other suspects in political cases, especially those related to the draconian lese majeste law or Article 112 of the Criminal Code.

Srettha said he believes the justice minister has heard these calls and will take them up to consult with all agencies concerned.

“I hereby affirm that all will be treated fairly,” the premier said. He added that Pheu Thai Party has not yet discussed the issue of pushing for the release of political prisoners, though it was one of the party’s election campaign promises.

A Cabinet source said on Tuesday that Srettha was worried about the repercussions of this needless death. The source also said that the premier asked Thawee to provide details of Netiporn’s case and discussed measures to deliver justice and assistance to her family.

He also instructed the justice minister to deal with the case transparently. Srettha’s order prompted the Corrections Department to release a statement on Tuesday evening explaining steps taken to save Netiporn.

Lawyer demands more info on activist’s death as PM expresses sorrow

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat led Netiporn’s sister to observe the post mortem procedure at Thammasat’s Forensic Institute.

The lawyer said the pathologists allowed the late activist’s relatives to observe the dissection of the body for the sake of transparency. Kritsadang said a preliminary check on Tuesday did not provide details of the cause of death, adding that “heart failure” was too general a reason.

Pathologists are expected to check for traces of possible fatal wounds and whether she had been given dangerous substances that may have caused her death, he said. Kritsadang added that details of the post mortem could be announced by Wednesday evening, though it may take three to four weeks to get detailed blood and bodily fluid test results.

The lawyer said he and Netiporn’s family want the Corrections Department to prove that the late activist received proper treatment within the prison hospital before her heart stopped working on Tuesday morning and if proper steps were taken to revive her and save her life.

He said after the South Bangkok Criminal Court revoked Netiporn’s bail in February, she went on hunger strike in protest.
After her condition worsened earlier this month, she was sent to Thammasat Hospital, which deemed her well enough to be returned to the prison hospital.

“The question is, why did she pass out on Tuesday morning? Was the hospital taking good care of her or was the hospital facing budget restrictions to provide proper care?” the lawyer asked.

Lawyer demands more info on activist’s death as PM expresses sorrow

He said the Corrections Department also contradicted itself when it said that Netiporn could eat well but had low levels of essential minerals in her blood. According to the department, she had started consuming food and water from April 4.

Kritsadang also questioned why Netiporn was not rushed to Thammasat Hospital when her condition worsened to the point of heart failure. He asked why the hospital wasted crucial time trying to revive her.

The lawyer said he was concerned that all crucial evidence about Netiporn’s treatment and the process to revive her may later be covered up.

Kritsadang said Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, another lese majeste convict, was being treated in the bed next to Netiporn’s and could provide key testimony on what happened.

The lawyer also called on the justice minister to allow non-partisan persons to enter the prison hospital to collect evidence, interview Tantawan and further investigate the case.

He said that Thawee had called him earlier though they did not discuss the cause of death, as they are awaiting autopsy results. Kritsadang said that during the call, the justice minister also promised to visit Tantawan in prison on Wednesday.

“But I’m not sure if it will be too late,” the lawyer said.
Kritsadang said Netiporn’s family will collect her body on Thursday for funeral services at Wat Sutthapot in Bangkok’s Lat Krabang district. Prayer rituals will continue until Saturday before she is cremated on Sunday.