Victim in Joe Ferrari Case Died of Suffocation, Court Decides

On Wednesday, the Nakhon Sawan provincial court ruled that the drug suspect tortured with plastic bags in police custody at Muang district’s police station had died of deliberate suffocation.

According to the court’s ruling, the then-superintendent Thitisan Utthanaphon, known among his colleagues as Joe Ferrari, and six of his subordinates covered Jirapong Thanapat’s head with plastic bags for more than six minutes, as shown by video footage from the scene.

The original autopsy report, allegedly modified in Thitisan’s order, listed a drug overdose as Jirapong Thanapa’s cause of death. But the court stated that the victim died of deliberate suffocation while in police custody.

The case sparked public outrage after a viral video on social media showed police officers torturing Jirapong Thanapa, who was later taken to hospital with no vital signs.

In the clip, the suspect in the drug case was subjected to a violent interrogation where Jo Ferrari and other six officers covered his head with six back bags and tied his hands behind his back despite his efforts to free himself.

The Nakhon Sawan provincial court ruling came after the court launched an investigation to determine the suspect’s cause of death and identify those involved in his murder. Investigators considered testimony from forensic experts, who conducted the autopsy, the victim’s mother, police agents, prosecutors, and attorney Sittra Biabangkerd, who posted the controversial video online.

Thitisan and his six subordinates were dismissed from the police service and placed in pretrial detention pending an investigation led by a special police panel.

Joe Ferrari has argued that the man died accidentally, stating that he should not face murder but assault charges. However, all have been charged with murder through torture, assault, abuse of power, and coercion.

Moreover, the former police station’s superintendent is being investigated for allegedly having won millions of baht and expensive cars in “rewards” from the Customs Department for seizing hundreds of luxury cars that were illegally imported from Malaysia in recent years.

During a raid on Joe Ferrari’s lavish mansion in the Bangkok suburbs, investigators discovered many cars and other assets in his personal possession.