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Pattaya Daily News

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17 October 2012 :: 12:10:29 pm 67574

Last Survivor Dies In Landmark Murder Case

A 59-year-old Thai man was cremated after dying on Oct. 12. He and three other men were wrongly accused of the 1986 murder of a teen girl. They spent six years in prison before their release, and three men died prematurely. Later, new laws were passed to further protect the rights of defendants.
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A cremation ceremony was held for a 59-year old Thai man who had been wrongly imprisoned in a sensational murder case more than two decades ago. The man, Krasae Ploykum, had been convicted with three other men for murdering a 16-year-old Thai-American teenage girl, Sherry Ann Duncan, in Samut Prakan.

The men were sentenced to death in 1990, and spent six years in prison before they were released, after it was discovered they had been wrongly accused. But one defendant had died in prison, and the other two died shortly after their release. The lone survivor was Mr. Krasae, who died of heart failure on October 12.

The case rocked Thailand with its sensationalist aspects, and led to reforms in the Thai legal system that included more rights for accused defendants in trials, and compensating victims for false imprisonments.

In Bangkok, at the department of rights and liberty protection, Pol. Col. Narat Sawetanan, the director general, commented on the sad injustice suffered by the deceased men as he prepared to attend the cremation ceremony of Mr. Krasare.

Pol. Col. Narat said that the four victims could be called scapegoats who had been sentenced to death without committing any crime, and the case became a landmark event that resulted in the creation of a compensation law to pay compensation costs and expenses for wrongly-convicted defendants in criminal cases since 2001.

However, in many cases since, entitled victims have not collected any money because they are unaware of the new laws. According to information gathered by the Royal Thai police, five categories of crime were studied, focusing mainly on violent and sex and crimes. The police found that only15% of victims filed to claim their rights from the new criminal code, and the number was very few because the victims did not know their rights.

So the government’s civil rights department has co-operated with police to arrange for any entitled victims in criminal cases to be informed of their rights to claim compensation money from the government. In the past, the Thai government has not paid more than 200-250 million baht per year in compensation, despite a growing number of victims seeking money.

The Sherry Ann Duncan murder occurred in 1986, when the teen girl was abducted on her way to school and forced into a taxi. Her body was later found in a mangrove forest in Bang Samran, Bang Poo, Samut Prakarn.

The police then had a conference to announce that they had caught the killers, which included Ms. Duncan’s 41-year-old boyfriend, Mr. Winai Chaipanit, a construction contractor, and four of his employees: Mr. Rungcharlerm Kanokchawarnchai, Mr. Pitak Kakhai, Mr. Krasare Ployklum, and Mr. Thawat Kitprayoon.

However, Mr. Winai was later released due to lack of evidence. But the remaining four were found guilty and sentenced to death. However, Mr. Winai continued to fight for justice and insisted the men were innocent.

A later police investigation revealed that a police colonel leading the criminal investigation had paid a tuk-tuk driver to lie about seeing the defendants abduct the victim.

The men were released and a new trial began with a new suspect. Ms. Duncan apparently had another older boyfriend, and the man’s jealous girlfriend had hired people to kill Ms. Duncan. But the female suspect was found not guilty in that later trial.

Of the four wrongly imprisoned men, Mr. Rungcharlerm died in prison in 1991 of a heart attack; Mr Pitak contracted tuberculosis while in prison and died only months after his release; and Mr. Thawat died of cancer a short while later. Mr. Krasae was the only long-term survivor until his recent death.

Although the falsely-convicted men had sued the Royal Thai police and got some money, it was not worth what they had been through, said Pol. Col. Narat Sawetanan.

Category : Thailand News

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