Thai police sentenced for the murder of a drug suspect

BANGKOK -- Wednesday's sentence for a former Thai police colonel, nicknamed "Jo Ferrari", for his extravagant collection luxury cars, was accompanied by five subordinates to life imprisonment for torturing and killing a drug suspect they were trying to extort.

Thai police sentenced for the murder of a drug suspect

BANGKOK -- Wednesday's sentence for a former Thai police colonel, nicknamed "Jo Ferrari", for his extravagant collection luxury cars, was accompanied by five subordinates to life imprisonment for torturing and killing a drug suspect they were trying to extort.

It is not uncommon for police to abuse suspects or commit corruption in Thailand. The brutal assault on the suspect in Bangkok on Aug. 5, 2013 was caught on video and posted on social media by a junior officer who obtained it from a whistleblower.

Video appears to show Col. ThitisanUtthanaphon, chief station in Nakhon Sawan, north Bangkok, ordering other officers to attack Jirapong Thanapat. He was then brought into a room with a black plastic bag covering his head and handcuffed.

Jirapong, aged 24, was thrown to the ground by the officers. They also placed more bags on his head. One of the officers then appeared to briefly kneel down on Jirapong, until he became limp. He was eventually taken to the hospital after several failed attempts to revive his condition.

Six defendants were convicted of premeditated killing and torture or cruelty, and two other lesser charges. They were originally sentenced to death. However, the officers reduced the sentences to life imprisonment to try to revive the victim's family and to compensate them.

The assault involved seven officers, one of whom was not present at the time. He was sentenced to five years in prison and four months for abuse power and extortion.

Thitisan assets were seized by police and officials of Thailand's Anti-Money Laundering Office for approximately 131 million baht ($3.8million). The assets included a mansion worth 57 million baht (1.7 million USD) and 24 cars that were worth 70 million baht (two million USD). According to media reports, the vehicles were bought under suspicious circumstances.

After Jirapong was arrested by police along with his female companion, Jirapong allegedly had more than 100,000 methamphetamine pills.

According to the account of the whistleblower (not named for his safety), the police officers demanded 1,000,000 baht ($29,000), which they paid for their release.

Thitisan demanded twice that amount, and then ordered his subordinates cover Jirapong with the plastic bag, and beat him until Jirapong agreed to it, stated the junior policeman. Thitisan demanded that the woman arrested be released. He also said that Thitisan had paid the victim's dad to remain silent.

While the defendants weren't present in court, they attended Wednesday's sentencing via video from the prison they were being held. The victims' parents were also present. Jakkrit Klundee his father said that he felt the police officers should have restrained the defendants and that the family will seek out compensation from the police department.

He told reporters that it was difficult to hear details like the amount of bags used and how tightened they were until my son couldn’t breathe. My wife wept when she heard this. I pray that they learn their lessons and will be held accountable for their actions.

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