We want justice, say young cadet’s family
The family of a young cadet who died under suspicious circumstances are now demanding justice after school declared “heartless”
THE FAMILY of the dead teen cadet Phakhapong Tanyakan has demanded that the military bring to justice the people who committed wrongful acts that led to their son’s death after an autopsy indicated that he might not have died from cardiac arrest.
Phakhapong’s parents and his sister Supicha Tanyakan yesterday held a press conference to make the demand in eastern Chon Buri province, giving details of the training he had received at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (AFAPS) as well as a primary analysis of the initial autopsy report.
His mother, Sukalya Tanyakan, said an anonymous physician had informed her that blood in his spleen and liver indicated that he might have been hit by a hard object, rather than injured by CPR performed to revive him.
CPR might have had an impact but it would not have affected the spleen and liver, she quoted the doctor as saying.
The 18-year-old died on October 17. Although an autopsy performed by the military-run Phramongkutklao Hospital indicated that Phakhapong had died of sudden cardiac arrest, his family suspected that his death might have been caused by corporal punishment he had received at the military school.
The family later asked the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) to perform a second autopsy to verify the cause of death, which found that some of Phakhapong’s organs were missing.
Sukalya said her son was supposed to have received better treatment at the school. “Prior to his death, my son had just recovered from an illness. The people at the school were heartless to him,” she said.
His elder sister Supicha said at the press conference that the first autopsy showed that his fourth right rib had been broken, which was confirmed by the CIFS’s report, she said. That injury might not have been caused by CPR, she added.
The examination of other internal organs collected from the military hospital would be performed this week by the CIFS under the surveillance of a committee of which Supicha was a member, she said.
“By doing this, we don’t want to hurt the reputation of the military or the school, but we want justice for the responsible persons,” she said.
The military has set up a committee to investigate the case but its results have not been made public.
‘Right to comment’
Supreme Commander General Thanchaiyan Srisuwan said yesterday that all parties had the right to comment, but should wait for the results of the autopsy and investigation before drawing any conclusions. People voicing their opinions now might pressure the investigative committee, he added.
So far, two senior military officers have been transferred from the Thai Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in the wake of the scandal surrounding the death. Thanchaiyan last week ordered the transfers of Colonel Chatchai Duangrat and Commander Noppasit Pienchob, who both oversaw student affairs at the military school. Phakhapong’s father Pichet yesterday thanked authorities for the move but insisted that the family wanted to see wrongdoers punished.
The case has ignited widespread social debate over the past week. While the military, many cadets and alumni have posted on social media that Phakhapong was “too weak” to join the military and hard punishment was necessary to maintain discipline at the school, others voiced their opinions wanting to see transparency in the school and regarding its training.
Even Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has had to offer an apology to the family for his comments, in which he apparently jumped to the conclusion that the teenage cadet had died due to poor health.
He also said people with health issues should not become soldiers, as hard training and corporal punishment were common practices to train civilians to become soldiers.
“We want to make clear in public that my son was healthy and did not have a chronic disease when he entered the military school,” Pichet said. “We don’t want to quarrel with the military or the school but we want the military to examine the quality of its personnel.”