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Lawyer Krisadang Nutcharas has filed a petition with the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court calling for an inquest into the death of activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, who died in detention on 14 May after a long hunger strike to demand judicial system reform and the release of political prisoners.

Krisadang Nutcharus speaking to reporters at the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Krisadang said that there is enough evidence to believe that Netiporn died at the Corrections Hospital, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court. He is therefore asking for the inquest to be conducted by the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court, instead of the Thanyaburi Provincial Court, because it is likely she was already dead when she was transferred to Thammasat University Hospital.

Krisadang said that the Corrections Hospital has not handed over CCTV footage of Netiporn’s resuscitation or other documents that her family had requested, but will soon be receiving the result of her autopsy from Thammasat University Hospital. The family has also granted the power of attorney to a standing committee in the House of Representatives to summon documents from the Corrections Hospital, but Krisadang does not know if the documents have been delivered to the committee and, if not, when they will be delivered.

The family are demanding the CCTV footage to determine whether the hospital told the truth about their treatment of Netiporn, including whether CPR was performed and how she was moved from the ward, Krisadang. He noted, however, that they have received enough information from Thammasat University Hospital about what happened, but would like to give the Corrections Hospital to explain their side of the story.

Netiporn died on 14 May after suffering cardiac arrest while 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 the autopsy concluded that the cause of death was acute heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, and cardiomegaly (enlarged heart).

The 28-year-old activist was held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge since her bail was revoked on 26 January.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

Netiporn’s medical records from the Corrections Hospital, where she was held before her death, diagnosed Netiporn with Re-feeding Syndrome, a condition caused by a severe shift in electrolytes when a person who is malnourished begins feeding again. It also stated that she was sent for a chest x-ray and a brain CT scan while CPR was being performed, leading her family to question why these tests were conducted since it would mean that CPR was interrupted. The family also questioned why the time at which resuscitation began after Netiporn went into cardiac arrest was recorded differently in different documents.

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