The 17-year-old fatal-love-triangle case involving poisoned Prince Thitiphan Yugala, his wife and her lover came to the final chapter yesterday with a Supreme Court ruling that sentenced her to four years and eight months in jail.
The Supreme Court found Chalasai Kwanthiti, 42, better known as Mom Luk Pla, guilty of physical assault leading to the death of the prince in 1995.
The Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court’s decision that acquitted Luk Pla. The Supreme Court found her guilty of poisoning the prince’s coffee with carbonate insecticide but without intention to kill.
The Supreme Court initially sentenced Luk Pla to seven years in jail but because she confessed during interrogation by police, the court commuted the sentence by one-third to four years and eight months.
Democrat Party MP Suthas Ngernmuen, who provided legal assistance to Luk Pla, said he would seek a royal pardon for the woman before His Majesty the King’s birthday on December 5.
The case made headlines in 1997 when public prosecutors charged Luk Pla with either premeditated murder or manslaughter for the death of Thitiphan.
Luk Pla, whose name means “little fish”, was also dubbed the “little bird in the golden cage” after she was married to the prince in 1994 in a grand ceremony, which elevated her from a commoner to a royal. The prince was reportedly infatuated with her so much that she was put under tight monitoring.
Luk Pla tried dozens of times to flee the prince to be with her lover at that time, Uthes Supwa. She has two children with Uthes but broke up and is remarried to Thawechai Noirpasert, 39, after Uthes was jailed on a theft conviction.
Although she was charged with murder, Luk Pla received public sympathy because she was seen as a helpless woman.
Born as Nipaporn to a woman from Ubon Ratchathani, the baby Luk Pla was abandoned at Chulalongkorn Hospital and was adopted by the prince’s sister when she was two years old. The prince later took her as a servant in his house when she was four.
She was made a common-law wife of the prince when she was 12 before she was officially married to him in 1994, a year before his death. He believed the marriage would stop her running away.
Although police and prosecutors charged Luk Pla with having committed either premeditated murder or manslaughter, the Criminal Court declined to convict her of murder. On February 19, 2002, she was convicted of physical assault leading to death. She was initially sentenced to nine years in prison but the court commuted the sentence to six years because of her confession.
Luk Pla appealed against the verdict and in a ruling on March 8, 2005, the Appeals Court acquitted her on the grounds that there was no witness who saw her put the insecticide in the coffee.
The Supreme Court considered the main point as to whether Luk Pla had really poisoned the prince. The court ruled that she failed a lie-detector test when she claimed she did not poison him. The court also noted that she had confessed during interrogation that she put the insecticide in the prince’s coffee with an intention of making him sick so that she could later ask him in front of others to divorce her.
The high court also ruled that it was impossible for Luk Pla to plan the murder by putting insecticide in the coffee because the amount she used didn’t kill him within an hour as charged. The prince died nine days after he was taken to the hospital.