Joe Ferrari and Subordinates Given Life Sentence for Drug Suspect Killing

On Wednesday, the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct sentenced the former chief of Muang Nakhon Sawan Police Station and six other former police officers to life in prison for torturing a drug suspect to death.

The defendants initially received the death penalty, but the sentences were commuted to life in prison because they confessed some acts, tried to resuscitate the victim and provided financial assistance to his family.

Former Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, also known as Jo Ferrari due to his extensive collection of luxury cars, and five of his subordinates were charged with murder after a drug suspect died in their custody.

The subordinates were identified as former investigative inspector Pol Maj Raweerote Ditthong, former deputy inspector for crime suppression Pol Capt Songyot Klainak, Pol Lt Thoranin Matwanna, also formerly deputy inspector for crime suppression; Pol Sen Sgt Maj Wisut Boonkhiao and Pol L/C Paweekorn Khammarew.

Mr. Thitisan and the other five officers detained Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, for questioning over drug suspicion from August 4 to 6 last year at Nakhon Sawan station.

A leaked video showed that the six former police officers covered the suspect’s head with plastic bags during interrogation, causing him to suffocate to death. According to police reports, the station’s surveillance cameras were removed after the incident.

The defendants were charged with malfeasance, coercion, and lethal torture. However, Mr. Thitisan denied the extortion accusations, saying that he and his team only tried to get information about the drug images they found on Mr. Jeerapong’s phone.

The former police chief also denied the fatal torture charge, and his five subordinates denied all charges.

The court ruling was read during a video conference at Klong Prem Central Prison, where the victim’s parents were also on hand. The court found Mr. Thitisan and the other defendants guilty on all counts.

A seventh person involved, Pol Sen Sgt Maj Supakorn Nimchuen, was sentenced to eight years in prison for malfeasance and coercion. The sentence was commuted to five years and four months in prison after the defendant confessed to some actions in the case despite first denying the charges.