Joe Ferrari and Six Others Deny ‘Torture Causing Death’ Charge

Thitisan “Joe Ferrari” Uttanaphon, a dismissed former superintendent of Nakhon Sawan police, admitted in court that he assaulted Jirapong Thanapat, a suspect who died in police custody, while he was trying to obtain information on illicit drug trafficking.

However, he denied the charge of having tortured Jirapong to death, arguing that he had no intention of killing him.

Thitisan and six former subordinates appeared before the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases. It was the first hearing on their case, where they were charged with four counts, including torture causing death, which carries a death penalty, malfeasance, abuse of authority, and coercion.

The seven men were arrested after a video showed them covering Jirapong’s head with several layers of plastic bags during a police interrogation on Aug. 5. The 24-year-old died of suffocation, forensic investigators later confirmed.

During the first hearing, some admitted most charges, but none confessed to the murder count. Thitisan said he violated the Criminal Code’s Section 157, pleading guilty to misconduct, abuse of power causing injury to other people, and coercion.

Meanwhile, the victims’ parents Jakkrit Klundee and Chanjira Thanapat asked the court for permission to become additional plaintiffs. Judges approved their request after both parties did not object.

They have also demanded a 1.55-million-baht compensation from the defendants for losing their son, local media reported yesterday. The men must respond to the damages at the next hearing, set to be held in January.

Mr. Jakkrit said he and his wife had decided to become joint prosecutors to obtain information on the case’s progress directly.

“The picture of my son being tortured is lingering in my mind,” he said, adding: “I can never accept that. I came today to listen to what they said and to seek justice from the court.”

The suspects, who remain under arrest, were escorted from Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday alongside their lawyers.

Authorities announced that the next hearing would be held on Jan. 19, when both sides must examine the evidence.