Man beaten to death after desecrating the Erawan Shrine
A young Thai man, believed to be mentally ill, almost completely destroyed one of Bangkok's most revered religious images, the statue of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, at Rajprasong intersection early yesterday morning, after which he was beaten to death by a group of angry bystanders.
The remains of the statue of the Hindu god Brahma at the popular Erawan Shrine yesterday after it was smashed by a hammer-wielding mentally deranged man. Below, a close-up of the damaged statue.
The Erawan shrine housing the statue is one of the city's most popular tourist spots and regularly attracts crowds of worshippers, both locals and tourists.
A new Brahma statue will be completed and placed in the shrine within two months. However, the shrine will be open for the public to pay its respects from today with four photographs of the statue facing out from the shrine.
A decision has yet to be made about the material to be used for the new statue. Plaster will keep its essence, but nine types of metal mixed with some surviving pieces of the old statue will ensure its durability. Surviving fragments include the face, head and weapons, said Religious Affairs Department director-general Preecha Gungeeya.
Two street sweepers from Pathum Wan district office have been arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of Thanakorn Phakdeephol, whose father Sayant said he had a history of mental illness and had received psychiatric treatment six years ago when he was 21.
Sayant said his son disappeared from his house around midnight after showing the symptoms of mental illness. He later heard a radio news report that a man with anti-allergy pills found in his pants had been beaten after destroying the Brahma statue.
"It kind of hit me, learning of that detail, so I went to the [Lumpini] police station and found out that it was my son.
"I feel sorry that he destroyed the Brahma statue, which is highly respected by Thai people," he said.
Lumpini police station chief, Colonel Suphisal Phakdeenaruenart, said he was investigating whether there were any other people involved in the attack on Thanakorn.
Quoting witnesses, police said Thanakorn climbed onto the shelter housing the statue and, using a large hammer he was carrying, pounded it until all that was left of the statue were its legs. A number of visitors to the shrine were seen weeping after witnessing the desecration.
Saksri Klinbua, one of the arrested street sweepers, claimed he smacked Thanakorn only once in the head with a stick in self defence after Thanakorn charged him with the hammer in his hand. He said Thanakorn then knocked his head on the ground after a loop on his trousers snared on a steel fence as he jumped over it to get away.
Police said the other man arrested, Kasemsak Karunwong, had admitted to assaulting Thanakorn.
After the attack, Thanakorn lay close to a stairway to a nearby department store with blood running from his mouth. There was a four-inch wound caused by a blunt object to his head, a cut on his left eyebrow and many bruises on his back. He died before being taken to the Police Hospital, across Rajdamri road.
Khanittha, the wife of Saksri, claims she saw her husband smack Thanakorn only once.
"There were other people running after him and they later assaulted him but I don't know who [they were] or how many of them [there were]," she said.