ACM Chavarat assures impartial probe into cadet’s death

The armed forces-appointed fact-finding panel “has several doubts” about the death of Pakapong Tanyakan, a freshman of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, said the panel chairman, ACM Chawarat Marungruang, deputy chief of staff of the armed forces.

The committee would consider the case carefully, with committee members making field examinations and the committee will not stick to the information of any party concerned, be impartial and will not be restricted by timeframe, ACM Chawarat said on Tuesday (Nov 28).

He went on saying that the investigation would cover all aspects of the case, including eyewitnesses, circumstantial witnesses, the scene where the victim died, CCTV system as well as reports of medical examinations, among others.

The probe chairman assured that there will be no cover-up and the panel’s findings will be able to clear public doubts about the cadet’s death.

Pakapong, 18, a Chon Buri native, collapsed at the school in Nakhon Nayok province on Oct 17. He was rushed to Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy School Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8.24pm. His body was later sent to Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok for autopsy.

The autopsy revealed he died of sudden heart failure, but his family was not convinced and lodged complaint with local police to conduct another autopsy. The police later requested the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) to perform the second autopsy.

An informed source at the CIFS said forensic experts were in the process of examining the DNA of tissues from internal organs received from Phramongkutklao hospital to ascertain that the organs belong to the deceased cadet.

The CIFS received Pakapong’s organs, including heart and brain, on Nov 23.

Former forensic expert and an advisor to the CIFS, Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan on Tuesday (Nov 28) explained that forensic experts would have to spend more time than usual to examine the organs because they were soaked in formalin as the chemical is capable of destroying tissues, hence the need to find the unimpaired tissues for examination.

After having carefully examined the cadaver, tissues and organs, forensic experts will be able to come up with possible cause of the death and the findings will be sent to police inquiry officers and the victim’s family, said Khunying Porntip.

A forensic expert, who declined to be named, told Thai PBS that Pakapong’s body might have been sent from the school to Phramongkutklao Hospital at least 10 hours after his death because the autopsy report said his body has fully stiffened. 

He explained that the bleeding in the lungs, spleen and liver and the enlargement of the heart in the victim’s body could possibly caused by an overworking heart, meaning that the victim might have gone through grueling activity which exhausted his body and heart.

These, he said, would not cause sudden cardiac arrest as the bleeding in several internal organs were indicative that the heart was still pumping blood before death.

Another suspicion, he noted, was that the lungs were unusually heavy – which needs to be investigated.