On 24 April, the Criminal Court held another hearing in the inquest into the death of Amphon Tangnoppakul, a lèse majesté convict who died in prison in May last year.
The inquest began in February this year, with four witnesses including Amphon’s wife Rosmalin, an investigator, a prison medical doctor and a prison official.
Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul is also a lèse majesté convict who took good care of Amphon while they were in prison together, and was one of the last persons to have seen him alive.
According to Thanthawut’s testimony, Amphon was imprisoned in Zone 8, a maximum security zone where prisoners convicted of serious crimes were incarcerated, some afflicted with contagious diseases such as tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS.
Since his first day in prison, Amphon had been assigned to produce 5 kilograms of paper cups or about 2,500 cups each day. Due to his frail health, he never reached the daily target of 2,500 cups, but he was helped by other sympathetic prisoners, said Thantawut.
In Zone 8, Thantawut said, there were 32 cells, each 3 x 5 meters, accommodating about 20-24 prisoners, or even up to 35 during the floods in 2011. Meals are provided three times a day, with special food only for religious reasons, not for any other reason, such as food suitable for the sick or old.
The Bangkok Remand Prison has only one medical facility for over 5,000 prisoners. Doctors come on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and nurses and male nurses are regularly available. Each day, 20 prisoners are allowed to go to the medical facility, and each prsioner is allowed to go there only once a week. Thantawut had been there and found that the doctors did not examine his condition closely. To request a transfer to the Corrections Hospital outside the prison is very difficult, except in very serious cases. In case of emergencies during the night, prisoners call the wardens by tapping on a bamboo pipe.
Amphon had told Thanthawut that when he went to the medical facility for the first time, the doctors did not diagnose his illness, but gave him painkillers for his stomach pain. Only when he cried out the second time did the doctors examine him, but with some contemptuous remarks about his alleged offences to the monarchy.
Afterwards Amphon suffered pain in his stomach which was hard and swollen. He could not defecate normally, could not eat and could not walk. He was sent to the Corrections Hospital on 4 May 2012, and finally died four days later.
The court will hear testimony on 8 Aug from doctors involved in the autopsy of Amphon.
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Inquest into Amphon’s death
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