Evidence obtained by the police from various sources, including statements from witnesses, does not provide any indication that the death of the late TV actress Nida Patcharaveerapong, aka “Tangmo”, involved foul play, said spokesperson for the Royal Thai Police Pol Maj-Gen Yingyos Thepjumnong today (Tuesday).
The officer held a press conference with Deputy Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1 Pol Maj-Gen Udorn Yomcharoen, after an urgent meeting of the officers handling Nida’s case was held with National Police Chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.
The spokesman said, however, that at this stage all the evidence, oral and material, points to negligence, resulting in the death of Nida and that there is no evidence that suggesting that illicit substances were being used on the speed boat on the night Nida fell into the Chao Phraya river from the vessel.
He said that, so far, no additional charges have been filed by the police against the five people on board the speed boat, except for the boat owner and the helmsman who were earlier charged with negligence causing death to another person.
Meanwhile, Pol Maj-Gen Udorn said police have, so far, questioned 77 witnesses, examined footage from 60 surveillance cameras and 20 additional video clips sent to the police. Police have also searched the house of one of Nida’s friends who was on the boat, and took several bottles of wine and liquor from the house for examination.
He said all five of the friends admitted they drank alcohol on the speed boat, but did not specify whether it was wine, beer or spirits.
Regarding the cut on Nida’s leg, he said result of the test to determine whether the injury was acquired pre or post mortem will be available in a week, as he insisted that this issue must be handled with great caution because it could define whether late actress’s death was murder, an accident or an act of negligence.
He insisted on the need to ensure fairness to all parties concerned. “Nobody should be jailed for a crime they did not commit,” he stressed, as he said that the enquiry officers and working committee handling the case must exercise great caution.
Meanwhile, Nida’s mother, her cousin and lawyer sought help from the Senate’s human rights committee today (Tuesday), to ensure transparency and fairness in the handling of the case of her daughter’s death.
Their petition was received by Senator Somchai Swangkarn, a member of the committee. He said that the committee has the right to ask for information from the police because the case is of public interest.
He also assured that the national police chief, who is also a senator, is personally overseeing the handling of the case, adding that a second autopsy may not be necessary as the police may already have sufficient evidence.
Two weeks after the death of Nida “Tangmo” Patcharaveerapong, people remain frustrated and unconvinced by the way police have handled the investigation.
Doubts were heightened on Tuesday after police investigators said in a press update that evidence and witnesses pointed to negligence causing death, rather than murder.
Many people suspected there was more to the actress’s death than an accident given the number of irregularities in the case. Above all, the public was sceptical as to whether the police could handle the case in a transparent manner because one of suspects is wealthy and has connections with influential people in politics.
The doubts that have surrounded the investigation speak volumes about the public’s lack of trust in the police.
People still remember the accusations that police helped Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya evade capture and remain at large to this day, after he drove his Ferrari and killed a policeman in Bangkok many years ago.
The public was again shocked last year by the fatal torturing of a drug suspect by “Joe Ferrari”, then superintendent of Nakhon Sawan police.
So when the police urge the public to “have trust in the police and the judiciary system” — this is something that is easier said than done.
The lack of trust has driven many people to believe fake news concerning Nida’s death. Some have bought into the conspiracy theory peddled by MP Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, leader of the Thai Civilised Party, and Santhana Prayoonrat, a former Special Branch deputy superintendent, that the actress may have been deliberately killed.
The police have said they will wrap the case up either by the end of this week or next week.
Pol Maj Gen Udorn Yomcharoen, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1, said on Tuesday that Phaiboon “Robert” Trikanjananun has told investigators that he had scant knowledge of driving a boat and wanted to try it on the night of Feb 24.
Police also said the evidence did not show any trace of narcotic use on that night.
That night, Mr Phaiboon and five other people, including Nida, took a speedboat trip in the Chao Phraya River. They claimed later that she fell off the boat after trying to relieve herself at the rear of the vessel.
They also admitted getting drunk on wine. The police claimed at one point that one had admitted to having taken narcotics, but this remains unverified.
Either way, the police have been criticised for dragging their feet.
Instead of summoning all five for interrogation as soon as possible and having them undergo urine and blood tests, they let too much time elapse.
It is noteworthy that the group returned the boat to a private garage on Feb 24, several hours after the incident.
The boat was then cleaned. The five reported themselves to the police a full two days after the incident, and gave urine tests another four days later.
As such, there was ample time for evidence to have been tampered with. It is also known that some of the people on the boat met again at restaurants and discussed with a politician how to deal with the case.
This investigation could make or break the reputation of the Royal Thai Police. Asking the public to have faith in them and the justice process simply doesn’t cut it.
Trust must be earned — by their professionalism, efficiency, integrity and transparency.
Ground Report | New Delhi: Why Justice for Tangmo Nida is trending; The body of Thai actress Nida ‘Tangmo’ Patcharavirapong has been recovered from the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok two days after she fell off a boat.
Why Justice for Tangmo Nida is trending
After a 38-hour search, her body was found by her brother on Saturday about 300 meters from Pibulsongkhram Pier in Nonthaburi province. The 37-year-old actress reportedly fell into the river Thursday night while on a boat trip with her manager and four other people.