Sacked Thai cop who suffocated drug suspect to death surrenders

·3-min read
Investigators in Thailand have arrested now-sacked police chief, Thitisan Utthanaphon — also called Jo Ferrari — after a video went viral showing the apparent torture and killing of a drug suspect (LIVE UPDATE/screengrab)
Investigators in Thailand have arrested now-sacked police chief, Thitisan Utthanaphon — also called Jo Ferrari — after a video went viral showing the apparent torture and killing of a drug suspect (LIVE UPDATE/screengrab)

A Thailand police chief who was sacked after a video of him torturing and killing a drug suspect in custody led to outrage in the country, is in police custody, news reports said.

Local media reported that Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, nicknamed “Jo Ferrari” for his collection of expensive sports cars, was caught asking the drug dealer in custody to pay $60,000 to have the charges dropped. He was the former superintendent of the Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan, north of Bangkok.

The Bangkok Post reported that the former chief surrendered to the police on Thursday evening.

As soon as the CCTV footage went viral on social media, Mr Thitisan disappeared. He is believed to have owned 29 cars worth more than 100m baht (£2.2m).

Mr Thitisan allegedly admitted using violence during the interrogation but said was trying to obtain information about potential criminal activities. He said: “I must testify that I didn’t have any intention to kill him. My intention was to work, to work for the people, and prevent people’s children from getting addicted to drugs.”

He also tried to take responsibility for his subordinates. He said: “For my subordinates, I take all responsibility [for what they did] because I ordered them. They have nothing to do with this. They tried to stop me. I take all the responsibility.”

However, he denied allegations that he was trying to extort money from the drug dealer. He said: “We did it because it is for our job. Money isn’t involved. Never once in my police life, I have ever been corrupted.”

Besides Mr Thitisan, six other police officers were charged with murder.

Kissana Phathanacharoen, deputy spokesperson for Royal Thai police, told the media that disciplinary actions have also been taken against all accused police officers.

Major General Ekarak Limsangkat, the deputy commissioner, was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that Mr Thitisan phoned him at 11pm on Wednesday and said that he wanted to kill himself. He said that he convinced Mr Thitisan to “surrender” and “do the right thing to protect the honour of the police.”

Earlier, a leaked CCTV footage allegedly showed police officers, including Mr Thitisan, suffocating a drug dealer with plastic bags over his head.

The video also showed that the man, identified by the local media as Jeerapong Thanapat, was assaulted and thrown to the floor by officers who then put more plastic bags over his head.

Thanapat is seen going limp in the video. Police then tried to revive him with a jug of water and CPR.

Meanwhile, Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch said: “Successive Thai governments have a long history of failing to ensure accountability for even the most ghastly police abuses against people in custody.” He called for an independent investigation into the case.

Mr Thitisan showed up at the police station in Chon Buri at 4pm to surrender, according to local reports.

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