The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has ordered an investigation into the conduct of a drill sergeant, who has been accused on social media of allegedly forcing new conscripts to drink water mixed with his own semen.
The RTN also suspended the non-commissioned officer, Petty Officer (second class) Thaksin Ngokpilai, a drill trainer attached to the security regiment of the Marine Corp based at Sattahip naval base, from any training of new conscripts.
RTN Spokesman Pokkrong Monthatphalin admitted today (Friday) that an initial check of the social media report has confirmed that the allegation has grounds, adding that the incident took place in October last year.
He said that, if the allegations are proved, the alleged perpetrator will face the maximum disciplinary penalty.
Vice Adm Pokkrong also offered an apology to the conscripts and their families for the alleged abuse, saying that the RTN has never had a policy to use violence as a means of punishment of conscripts, which is regarded as a violation of human rights.
He also said that the RTN commander-in-chief, Adm Somprasong Nilsamai, has instructed all naval units in charge of training new conscripts to put in place measures to prevent abuse by their superiors or drill sergeants and to try to change their attitude toward the conscripts.
An investigation and report by Amnesty International in 2020 claimed that the Thai military routinely subjects new conscripts to a barrage of beatings, humiliation and sexual abuse, which often amounts to torture.
New cadets have also been subjected to maltreatment by their seniors. One infamous case in 2017 was that of Pakapong Tanyakan, a first-year cadet at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, who died of sudden heart failure after he was subjected to punishment.
The family doubted the declared cause of his death, after his body was sent to them with some organs removed without their consent.
The family also asked the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science to perform a second autopsy to verify the cause of the death, which pointed to physical assault, including a broken rib and bruises all over his body.
The case is now being reviewed by Thailand’s medical council, but no finding has yet been published.
Former Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan insisted that the cadet had died of poor health and claimed that he was also subjected to similar treatment during his younger years.