Army threatens to prosecute Thai cadet who died at academy in 2017

Pakapong Tanyakan. Photo: Sukanya Tanyakan / Facebook
Pakapong Tanyakan. Photo: Sukanya Tanyakan / Facebook

The family of a cadet who died under suspicious circumstances three years ago at the academy said the army isn’t done with him after it threatened to prosecute him if he didn’t appear for the annual draft.

Supicha Tanyakan showed a warrant notice from the local army offices in Chonburi province addressed to her brother, Pakapong Tanyakan, whose death almost three years ago triggered suspicions he was beaten to death and led the army to conduct a review that failed to satisfy his family.

“Who are you summoning to show up for the draft again?” Supicha wrote yesterday on social media, tagging her deceased brother in the post. “He died at the academy.” 

The warrant notice said Pakapong must contact an army recruiter to provide a reason for failing to appear by Aug. 31 or be charged with dodging the draft.

Military spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suwaree said today in response to her post that the army was sorry to hurt the family’s feelings and blamed an administrative snafu.

Pakapong was 18 and in his first year at the academy when the army says he died of “sudden heart failure” on Oct. 17, 2017, at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok province. 

His family refused to believe the army’s explanation for his death, especially after his body was returned with their son’s brain, heart, bladder, and stomach missing. After Pakapong’s letters emerged detailing the physical abuse he experienced at the academy, his death sparked public furor over hazing and the numbers of conscripts who die in training, sometimes at the hands of their comrades. 

A thorough autopsy was slow-walked for months and no one was ever held accountable. An unidentified cadet was later said to have been charged with physical assault, but he was tried in secret before a military tribunal.

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