Joe Ferrari: Former Thai police chief sentenced to life in jail after being found guilty of murder by torture

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A Thailand court sentenced former police chief Thitisan Utthanaphon, nicknamed “Jo Ferrari”, to life in prison in connection with the torturing and killing of a drug suspect in his custody that had led to a country-wide outcry.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Wednesday found Thitisan and six other officers guilty of multiple offences including murder by torture, malfeasance in office and coercion, reported Thai PBS.

The court found the 41-year-old former police chief guilty of murder by torture and handed him the death penalty.

The sentence was immediately, however, reduced to a life term in prison.

In reducing his sentence the court cited his attempts to revive the suspect, Jirapong Thanapat, and that he had paid for the funeral expenses for the family.

Five of the six other officers were also convicted of murder and given life sentences.

A seventh received a smaller sentence due to his testimony.

Thitisan was nicknamed “Jo Ferrari” because of his collection of expensive sports cars, and six others have been charged with murder.

Last August a leaked video had shown a drug suspect — who was arrested for selling methamphetamine pills — being suffocated with plastic bags over his head in an alleged extortion effort.

The CCTV footage that was posted online, showed the officers asking the drug dealer to pay $60,000 to have the charges dropped.

The video also showed Thanapat being assaulted and thrown to the floor by officers who then put more plastic bags over his head.

When he died due to suffocation, local Thai media said that Thitisan ordered his men to take the body to the hospital and tell the doctor the death was caused by a drug overdose.

Thitisan surrendered to the police a day after the video went viral on 27 August.

In court the former police officer confessed to all charges except murder by torture.

“I did not intend to kill him... I intended to get the information so I can destroy the drug business,” he said at a press conference organised by the police after he had surrendered, reported BBC.

The victim’s father Jakkrit Klandi told AFP outside the court on Wednesday: “All seven officers should learn their lesson and pay for their crime.”

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