WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Aranyaprathet police chief transferred over torture allegations

Aranyaprathet police chief transferred over torture allegations

The Sa Kaeo police chief has removed the head of Aranyaprathet police station after it emerged that officers at the station had allegedly tortured a man to get him to admit to killing his wife. It later turned out that the woman had allegedly been killed by the son of a police officer and his friends.

Sa Kaeo Police commander Pol Maj Gen Omsin Boonyanuson signed an order dated Wednesday to transfer Pol Col Pichet Srichantra, commander of Aranyaprathet police station, to an inactive post at the Sa Kaeo police headquarters for 30 days.

The order cited the release of audio clips related to the alleged torture of Panya Kongsaenkham 54, the husband of the slain Buaphan Tansu, as the reason for the transfer.

Omsin said that because the audio clips indicating that police officers at the station had forced Panya to admit to killing his wife had been made public, he had ordered a fact-finding investigation. Pichet therefore had to be removed to ensure the investigation would be fair.

Omsin also appointed Col Ek-anan Hukaew, deputy Sa Kaeo police chief, as acting Aranyaprathet police chief until further notice.

The death of Buaphan caused an uproar on social media when strong evidence indicated that she was murdered by five teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16, one of whom is reportedly the son of a deputy at Aranyaprathet police station. He was transferred to Sa Kaeo police headquarters after the case became public.

Buaphan was found dead in a pond next to a school in Aranyaprathet district on January 12 with wounds to her head and face. Her husband was arrested shortly after and reportedly confessed to killing his wife.

Aranyaprathet police chief transferred over torture allegations After the arrest, Channel 8 obtained footage from security cameras that showed that Buaphan being beaten by the teenage gang until she lost consciousness. Footage also showed the gang taking her unconscious form on a motorcycle to the pond where her body was later found

Only after Channel 8 played the footage did the police arrest the five teenagers and release Panya.

During the crime reenactment, Panya was able to describe how his wife was beaten and killed and could point at the spot where she was drowned by the gang, leading social networkers and several media expressing doubt as to why Panya had that knowledge if he didn’t do it and was in fact drunk the night his wife was killed.

The strong criticism on social media that police had against arrested a scapegoat prompted deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn to head to Aranyaprathet on Wednesday.

Surachate interrogated Panya in front of the media and senior police only to be told by the husband that he invented the story on his own and he was not forced by police to confess to the killing.

But after Surachate returned to Bangkok, an official of the Win Win Foundation released two audio clips that indicated otherwise.

In the first audio clip, Panya told an official of the foundation that he was initially summoned by the police station as a witness but he was later tortured to admit the killing.

Panya said in the clip that a policeman with an artificial leg put a black garbage back over his head and forced him to admit to the murder. Panya said he was also chained at his ankles and claimed he had been instructed by the police to describe the details of the murder during the crime reenactment.

In another clip, an official of the foundation was heard talking to a police officer at the station, who admitted that a bag was put over Panya’s head but claimed this was done to make fun of Panya and there were no serious efforts to get him to confess.

When Surachate learned of the audio clips, he promised a fair and thorough investigation into the alleged torture and said he would send an investigative team from Bangkok to look into the accusations.

After the murder and alleged scapegoating made headlines, a celebrity social activist Kanthat Pongpaiboon, who is known as Kan Jompalang, led several more victims of the gang to file complaints with the police.

Kanthat said the victims had been raped by the gang but local police had turned a blind eye to the alleged crimes.

He said Buaphan, who was reportedly mentally retarded and liked to spend time alone on the street, would not have been killed had local police taken action against the notorious gang for their alleged crimes.