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Aftermath

SRT governor rejects calls for resignation

STATE RAILWAY of Thailand governor Prapat Chongsanguan yesterday vowed to stay on as SRT chief, saying his resignation would be deemed an escape from the problems surrounding the railways.

I am begging for support, as I joined the SRT a year [ago], and am not capable [yet] of knowing all its problems. When I said the rape and murder [last Sunday] was the first in the SRT, I was not aware of such a crime once before," he added.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will soon seek information from the SRT about compensation for the family of a young teenager who was allegedly raped and murdered by an SRT employee while riding a Bangkok-bound train. Visa Benjamano said the NHRC would also ask the SRT to explain how it would prevent future recurrences and protect passengers from other crimes.

The NHRC would take action by running campaigns urging people with violent tendencies to try to control themselves, as well as other activities to discourage aggravated crimes and other violence.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand vowed to help out the family of the victim through criminal and civil suits for compensation and bringing the suspect to justice. Through the civil cases, the SRT would be held responsible for consumer protection, as the victim was raped and killed while using the state enterprise's service.

'PETITION RATHER THAN RALLY'

Meanwhile, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has urged sympathisers and concerned netizens to call off a street rally planned for Saturday demanding stronger legal action against convicted rapists and murderers.

The public anger is in response to the death of the 13-year-old girl in a sex crime on a moving train last weekend.

NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Thivari said yesterday that instead of the demonstration, protesters should submit a written request to the junta to take action on the girl's death.

The self-confessed suspect - Wanchai Saengkhao - is an SRT employee, a fact that has led to growing calls for the resignation of the SRT chief.

NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha was said to be concerned about the welfare of the public, but believed a response to any public call needed to be considered thoroughly and in detail.

The Saturday rally was scheduled to take place in front of the Siam Paragon mall in downtown Bangkok at 11am. Winthai said any public gathering without permission was against NCPO regulations.

"Submitting a written request to General Prayuth to take care of the matter is regarded as the best solution possible as the moment," he added.

Railway Police commander Pol Maj General Thanang Buranont said morale among his officers had dropped after community criticism of them over the girl's rape and murder. He said their confidence needed to be boosted to shore up their image in the eyes of the public.

He blamed insufficient manpower as the reason for any failings, although 500 police officers were on security duty and another 100 on administrative duties.

A group of suspect Wanchai Saengkhao's friends reportedly met with police at Nopphawong Railway Police station to hand over a tablet computer they thought was the victim's taken by Wanchai after he allegedly violated and killed her.

At Satrinonthaburi School, where the victim had been in the eighth grade, a solemn memorial service was held yesterday, with many classmates and students weeping openly. Garlands and flower offerings were placed on her desk in Class 2/5. The all-girl school hosted her funeral at Wat Thinnakorn Nimit, and the cremation is scheduled for Sunday.


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