NAKHON PHANOM — A court convened Thursday for day two of a retrial requested by a woman who served a year and a half in prison for a crime she said she didn’t commit.
Jomsap Saenmuangkhot returned to the Nakhon Phanom provincial court for a hearing to examine the witnesses for the defense. The 45-year-old woman hopes to have her vehicular manslaughter conviction stricken from her record and her teaching job restored – a quest that has captured widespread attention and reignited debates about the justice system.
Jomsap didn’t speak to reporters as she arrived at the courthouse Thursday except to say she would let her lawyers take the lead.
“I’ll let my lawyers take care of contesting the charge,” Jomsap said.
Her trial runs Wednesday to Friday. Once the examination is concluded, the judges will forward all testimony to the Supreme Court, who will make the final ruling on whether her conviction should be overturned.
Police identified Jomsap as the driver who killed a man in a hit-and-run incident in 2005, a charge she has denied to this day. She said was at home watching TV. The court found her guilty in late 2013 and sentenced her to prison. She was freed in 2015 on a royal pardon after spending a year and a half in jail.
Her case garnered much attention after she gave numerous media interviews in early January. Those who believed her story weren’t limited to credulous netizens either; the Ministry of Justice has thrown support behind Jomsap and lending legal assistance for her trial.
Key evidence brought by Jomsap’s lawyer team is a report compiled by Toyota engineers that the car driven by Jomsap did not bear any signs of a crash or collision.
Police have maintained throughout the controversy that investigators who worked on Jomsap’s case performed their duty without fault. After Jomsap went public with her version of events, a senior police official suggested she might have paid someone else to step forward and confess on her behalf.
But that officer, Gen. Panya Mamen, also said on Monday that police investigators should take a lesson from Jomsap’s case and make sure their cases are watertight.
“This issue is a lesson we all share,” said Panya.
He added that police will continue to work with the Ministry of Justice in reviewing past convictions that potentially deserve retrials and exoneration.