Cadet Death: Little Progress in Police Inquiry

Pakapong Tanyakan poses in a photo on Aug. 16 with his parents at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok province. Image: Sukanya Tanyakan / Facebook
Pakapong Tanyakan poses in a photo on Aug. 16 with his parents at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok province. Image: Sukanya Tanyakan / Facebook

BANGKOK — Over two months have passed since military cadet Pakapong Tanyakan died at his academy, but police said Wednesday they have yet to identify the cause of death or hold anyone responsible.

Police launched a criminal investigation into Pakapong’s death after his family, which suspects foul play, filed a complaint on Dec. 19. As of today, police still had not completed the most basic inquiry – a detailed autopsy – a fact they blamed on bureaucratic red tape.

“We are waiting for a case file from Baan Na station. We don’t have that yet,” Col. Kosit Boonthawee, chief of Nakhon Nayok City Police Station, said over the phone.

Read: Family of Dead Cadet File Police Complaint

But Baan Na police station deputy head Kitti Tansiang said it Kosit’s unit is responsible for the case file.

“They haven’t sent it from [Nayok] city station. We have to wait for it,” Lt. Col. Kitti said. “I think they will send it soon.”

Asked why he wouldn’t just simply phone Kosit and settle the issue, Kitti said it would be rude.

“We don’t dare hurry them up. They’re already working on it,” he said.

Nakhon Nayok provincial police commander Wattana Yeejin said the complication stems from two police stations having to coordinate. The city station is in charge of compiling the autopsy report, while Baan Na is responsible for the criminal investigation and establishing whether there is a culprit in Pakapong’s death.

Neither station has completed its work so far.

Case files from both stations must be combined before investigators can pursue any possible charges with the prosecutor, Wattana said, adding that police were working as fast as they could.

“They are almost done,” Maj. Gen. Wattana said.

Pakapong’s sister, Supicha Tanyakan, who frequently speaks to the media, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Pakapong died in October at 19 from what the military described as “sudden heart failure” one day after returning to the Armed Forces Preparatory School from a break.

Pakapong’s family lashed out during the weekend after an internal army investigation ruled it blameless in Pakapong’s death. Investigators said he died of a heart condition and that abuse – which the family suspected – had not been a factor.

They said a broken rib found in the teen was caused when the cadet fell down eight flights of stairs.

The family first raised its suspicions last month after discovering Pakapong’s body had been returned to them with a number of vital organs missing, including his brain and heart.

The military blocked a civilian investigation and the results of an independent autopsy completed earlier this month were kept secret.

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Army to Blame Cadet’s Death on Heart Condition: Source