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The Corrections Hospital has refused to hand over CCTV footage from its hospital ward at the time detained activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom went into cardiac arrest, claiming that it would “affect security.”

Netiporn "Bung" Sanesangkhom (Photo by Ginger Cat)

The Corrections Hospital on Monday (21 May) released Netiporn’s medical records to lawyers authorized by the family to obtain the documents, but refused to give them the CCTV footage, claiming that it wants to blur the faces of people not involved in resuscitating Netiporn.

Lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus visited the Corrections Hospital last Friday (24 May). However, the hospital refused to give him the footage on the grounds that it could “affect security” because the footage was filmed inside the Corrections Hospital and nurses were included in the footage. The hospital also said that it is concerned that Netiporn’s lawyers would publish the footage and that doing so would damage the deceased.

Krisadang said that the family requested the CCTV footage from Netiporn’s ward at 6.15 to verify whether the sequence of events match information given by the Department of Corrections, including whether CPR was performed on her, whether she was taken for a chest x-ray and a brain CT scan, and whether CPR was continuously performed. This would show whether her treatment was up to standard.

Krisadang said that he had already told the Corrections Hospital to blur the faces of officials pictured on the footage. He also said that security should no longer be a factor after the Department of Corrections took a group of reporters on a tour of the Corrections Hospital – an activity which he said took place without the knowledge of himself or Netiporn’s family.

The family is not intending to release the footage to the public, Krisadang said. They only want to check whether the sequence of events in Netiporn’s medical records is accurate. He said that the Department of Corrections said it sent a letter informing Netiporn’s parents of why it is refusing to give them the footage, but they had not received it. The family is also deciding whether they will visit the Corrections Hospital to view the footage, but Krisadang said that if they are given the footage, they would be able to show it to experts and keep it confidential, noting that experts would not be able to comment on it if they cannot see the footage.

“I want to insist that we want the truth. We are not looking to prosecute anyone. As I have been saying, the Corrections Hospital medical personnel are merely operatives in the system. If damage has occurred, you have to fix the system. You have to reform the judicial system, starting from the courts, the granting of bail, temporary release, the police, the public prosecutor, and the Department of Corrections in caring for detainees whether they have been convicted or not, because they are human beings, as the Department of Corrections said they respect humanity,” Krisadang said.

Krisadang said that Netiporn’s medical records from Thammasat University Hospital give very clear information about her death. Since the Department of Corrections is refusing the opportunity to explain itself to the public, Krisadang said he has to explain to Netiporn’s family and to the media why she died with the information he has. He noted that there are other causes for Netiporn’s death, in addition to the placement of an endotracheal tube in her oesophagus, but he is waiting to release the information to prove whether the Department of Corrections is innocent.

He also said that he was told a “higher-up” ordered the department not to release the CCTV footage and to stop cooperating with the family or their lawyers. He asks who this “higher-up” is and if it is someone more powerful than the prime minister, since Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said that this information is not a secret and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that this case needs to be made transparent.

Netiporn was pronounced dead at 11.22 on 14 May after suffering a cardiac arrest while she was on a hunger strike to call for judicial system reform and the release of political dissidents. Her death certificate said that she died from heart failure and asphyxiation, while her autopsy concluded that the cause of death was acute heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, and cardiomegaly (enlarged heart).

The 28-year-old activist had been held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge since her bail was revoked on 26 January and had been on a hunger strike since 27 January.

Last Monday (20 May), the Corrections Hospital released the medical records from Netiporn’s last 5 days at the hospital to her family. However, the family is questioning whether the record is credible, since the time at which resuscitation began after Netiporn went into cardiac arrest was not the same in different documents. The record also said that Netiporn was sent for a chest x-ray and a brain CT scan, and the family is questioning why these tests were conducted while CPR was being performed, since it would mean that CPR was interrupted.

According to the records, the Corrections Hospital diagnosed Netiporn with Refeeding Syndrome, a condition caused by a severe shift in electrolytes when a person who is malnourished begins feeding again.

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