Thai police chief, officers accused of torturing suspect to death

Nakhon Sawan police suffocate a suspect in footage leaked Tuesday.
Nakhon Sawan police suffocate a suspect in footage leaked Tuesday.

Seven police officers including a city station commander stand accused of homicide in warrants for their arrest approved this morning.

The warrants approved by the Nakhon Sawan Provincial Court came after a leaked video clip showed officers suffocating a suspect to death with a plastic bag.

Col. Thitisan “Chief Joe” Utthanaphol, chief of Nakhon Sawan city police, and seven of his subordinates will be charged with deliberately killing a drug trafficking suspect using torture.

The footage was leaked Tuesday by lawyer Sitra Biabungkerd which showed officers place a bag over a man’s head. One officer was seen beating the man before other officers nearby came to assist. He does not appear responsive.

According to a timestamp on the video, it took place Aug. 5.

The suspect suffocated to death, according to Sitra. The lawyer also added that he obtained the video clip from an anonymous junior officer whistleblower who wanted Sutra’s help following up on the case.

National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk said that he had reviewed the clip and said a “serious” investigation had been launched.

#ChiefJoe, which is the nickname of Col. Thitisan, has been trending and outraging Thai Twitter with its shocking police brutality. The anger has been swelling since police have been attacking protesters and civilians using excessive force, such as shooting them in the heads, faces and necks with rubber bullets. 

One protest figure, real estate scion Nat Thanakitamnuat, was recently struck with a tear gas canister, blinding his right eye. A 15-year-old teen protester is still in a coma after he was shot by police, allegedly with a real bullet, last week.


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