Saturday, March 24, 2018
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FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – Relatives of two exchange students from Thailand who were killed in California are planning funeral ceremonies after their bodies were pulled from a mangled rental car lodged on boulders in the middle of a river, a Thai diplomat said on Tuesday.

A recovery team reclaimed the two bodies on Friday from the car in the Kings River near Fresno, more than a month after it careened down a cliff on July 26.

Relatives of the two victims endured weeks of waiting before the team felt it was safe to enter the dangerous rapids deep in a gorge.

“It was agonising for them,” said Tanee Sangrat, consul at the Consulate-General in Los Angeles. The relatives have come to “accept the fates of their loved ones,” he said.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office used a helicopter to lower the recovery team into the river. They used a hand wench to pull the car to the riverbank and free the bodies.

Crime scene analysts used fingerprints to confirm that the victims were Pakapol Chairatnathrongporn, 28, and his friend Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24.

They were students at the University of South Florida and were visiting Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada when their car crashed through a guardrail and plunged into the river.

The story has gripped Thailand, Mr Tanee said.

Authorities have not yet released the cause of death. Fresno officials turned over the remains to a funeral home and relatives will have them cremated before a ceremony expected later this week at a temple in North Hollywood, Thai and Fresno County officials said.

Relatives of Thiwadee will take her ashes back to Thailand, while Pakapol’s cremated remains will be scattered in California because “he loved the US.”

Investigators as a result of the recovery effort also found another car submerged nearby that authorities believe was driven by a missing couple from China.

Officials think the second car crashed into the same stretch of river around Aug 6.

Authorities have said it could take weeks for the river’s level to drop enough for them to retrieve that car and determine if anyone is inside.


Appeals Court upholds jail term for Sorrayuth

Posted by pakin On August - 29 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Appeals Court on Tuesday upheld the first Court’s ruling to jail a popular host of morning news programme Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda to 13 years and four months in the Rai-Som bribery and embezzlement scandal.

Sorrayuth, the founder of Rai-Som Co Ltd, has long been a popular host of the morning news show “Rueang Lao Chao Nee”. He has also appeared in two other news programmes; all of them are broadcast on Channel 3.

Last year, Rai-Som, Sorrayuth and one of his former staffers, Montha Thiradet, were convicted of wrongdoing related to the payment of more than Bt600,000 to Pitchapa Iamsa-ard, who was then an employee of MCOT, between 2005 and 2006.

Pitchapa, a defendant in the same case, did not report to MCOT additional TV commercials that Rai-Som aired during its popular TV programme “Kui Khui Khao” on Channel 9. As a result, Rai-Som received additional advertising revenue that was not shared with MCOT, resulting in damages of more than Bt138 million.


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday denied that former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had used Cambodia to flee Thailand.

Hun Sen made the remarks during a closed-door weekly meeting with some 4,400 garment workers at Koh Pich Grand Theatre in Phnom Penh, the minister said, without giving other details.

The denial came after media reported that the former Thai prime minister fled her country through Cambodia and Singapore for Dubai earlier this week, after she failed to show up at a court trial.

Thailand’s Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Yingluck on Friday after she failed to appear in court on the judgment day of a rice lawsuit filed against her.

The Supreme Court postponed the reading of the verdict for the case against Yingluck until Sept. 27. Her lawyer had reported that the former leader was suffering from Meniere’s disease and feeling dizzy and thus was unable to attend.

Sources from Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party told the media Saturday that Yingluck had left Thailand last week and flew via Cambodia and Singapore to Dubai where her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, lives in self-imposed exile.

AUDITOR-GENERAL Pisit Leelawachiropas has threatened to release the names of local administrative officials who are organising trips to Bangkok in support of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

The threat emerged yesterday as Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai announced that he believed people would “give us [Pheu Thai] a chance to always stand by them”. 

Yingluck, the former leader of Pheu Thai, is fighting charges of negligence related to her government’s rice-pledging scheme, which allegedly caused massive financial damages to the country, at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions. 

When she showed up to deliver her closing statements in the case on August 1, more than 1,000 people attended to express moral support for her. 

On August 25, the court is scheduled to deliver a verdict in the case. 

“There are reports that some local administrative body officials have planned trips under the pretext of other missions. Local government officials have told us that there are plans to bring participants to the court too,” Pisit said yesterday. “Such actions happened before on August 1.” He added that his office was investigating the reports and would consider releasing the names of those involved. 

Surasarn Pasuk, a former MP affiliated with the Pheu Thai Party, urged Pisit to disclose the names, adding that otherwise society would be confused by the claim. 

“In my opinion, local administrative bodies have been very careful during the past few years under close scrutiny. I don’t think they will dare using the state budget for such purposes,” he said. 

Thida Thavornseth, a leader of the red-shirt umbrella group United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, said red-shirt supporters were being suppressed and blocked from travelling to the court to show support for Yingluck on August 25, with most modes of transport having been made unavailable by the government. 

People who wished to show up at the court would have to take public buses, she said. 

Government suppression had caused difficulties for people and as a result angered them, she said, adding that the current situation was even worse than during the era of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, whose military-led government in the 1950s and 1960s was notoriously repressive.

In response to Thida’s remarks, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the government did not intend to prevent people from showing their support for Yingluck, but needed to ensure peace and order. The NCPO had to prevent any mobilisation related to the event from escalating into a big political movement, he added.

Phutham said his party would respect the court’s ruling, regardless of the outcome, while insisting that the rice-pledging scheme had been conducted honestly and cautiously in line with the country’s administrative plan. 

“If our dedication to contribute to the well-being of the majority will hurt us, then we still believe that the people will understand, protect us and give us a chance to always stand by them,” said Phumtham.

The verdict in the rice-pledging scheme is seen as having a profound impact on the fate of Yingluck as well as Pheu Thai Party. 

Phumtham said Pheu Thai believed that national reconciliation could not be achieved unless there was justice in society.

It was the responsibility of the leadership, especially the government, to set an example in ensuring justice equally for everyone, he said.

“Pheu Thai Party has demonstrated our standpoint that unity can happen if the process towards creating it is not merely a ritual based on image, but a sincere effort towards facilitating fairness and equality for everyone,” he said. “With this, true unity can happen and it will be an important way to take our country out of crisis.”

The party secretary-general also denied that Pheu Thai was discussing who would lead the party in the next election, adding that the party was a political institution that had rules and regulations to follow. 

Determining the party leader must be done through an internal democratic process with the participation of party members, he said. However, due to the NCPO’s ban on political activities, it was impossible for a meeting to be held to make such a decision, he added. It was too early to determine whether the next leader would come from the Shinawatra family, he added.

As the day of the verdict approaches, the NCPO has been stepping up security measures and warning against organised mobilisation of Yingluck supporters as well as calling on people to stay home and not turn up at the court to support Yingluck.

Authorities have also ordered the temporary shutdown of a red-shirt TV station, citing one programme’s content as allegedly breaking the law. 

The move ahead of Yingluck’s verdict has been widely seen as an attempt to restrain Pheu Thai supporters from demonstrating their power. The party last week issued a statement calling for the NCPO to end violations of rights and freedoms of ordinary people and the media.

Phumtham said yesterday that all of the public’s basic rights under the Constitution must be respected by the government.