BANGKOK — Representatives of the powerful Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan have offered a 500,000 baht cheque to be shared among the families of nine victims killed in a car crash in 2010 at the hands of a scion of the clan.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the clan’s secretary Suchai Thephasadin Na Ayudhya and the clan’s lawyer Nattapol Thongkam said the Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan is willing to offer a 500,000 baht cheque to cover the legal fees spent by the families of the victims.
Nine years later, the 2010 car crash ignited a new wave of public outrage when the victims’ families revealed to the media on Monday that they still have received neither compensation nor a sincere apology from the preparator Praewa Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, who is now known as Rawinpirom Arunwong.
Praewa was 16 and without a driver’s license when she crashed her car into the back of a Thammasat University van on Don Muang Tollway, killing nine people onboard while wounding several others.
Nattapol insisted the fund be considered as a gesture of goodwill representing the clan’s intention to support the victims’ families, which should not be conflated with the 19.8 million baht in compensation that Praewa’s family has to pay.
He also dismissed allegations that the clan used its influence to help one of its scions avoid legal repercussions, calling the case a “personal matter of Praewa’s family and not the liability of the extended clan as a whole.”
“Reporters, if one of your siblings killed someone, should the relatives have to be responsible for the compensation?” Nattapol asked. “The plaintiff and victims have to sort a way out together. The clan can’t be involved in such a process.”
The press conference was held without the presence of Praewa’s immediate family to show “the clan’s sincere sympathy to the victims and it’s intentions to support them.” Suchai claimed that the clan is mostly estranged from Praewa’s family and that he personally only met Praewa for the first time when she came to apologize for damaging the clan’s reputation.
Nattapol said the clan was surprised along with the public to find out that Praewa has not paid compensation to the victims’ families.
“I urge Praewa to come out and apologize to society for her accidental wrongdoings. It is necessary for everyone’s peace of mind and to ease the ongoing division in society,” Nattapol said.
Consisting of more than 200 independent families sharing the same royally-bestowed surname (rajasakuls), the Thephasadin Na Ayudhya clan includes members who have ascended to the highest ranks of society, including army generals, junta-appointed lawmakers and actors.
Despite its elite status, Suchai said the clan is not a wealthy rajasakul and the 500,000 baht was all they could gather.
At the end of the press conference, Nattapol spoke on the phone with one of the families of the victims about the clan’s offer of 500,000 baht. The unidentified family member reportedly declined the offer and urged that the money be given to Praewa’s family to assist in paying the owed compensation.
Praewa’s ex-husband speaks out
Sorawee Ratpitakteerada, a former member of the last junta-appointed legislative assembly, disputed allegations on Thursday that he leveraged his influence to assist his ex-wife to elude punishment. He said he has not been in contact with Praewa since the two divorced in 2015, a year after they were married in 2015. He asked society not to draw him into the outrage.
“We are separated because of the age gap and unmatched thoughts,” Sorawee said. “I was well aware of her case prior to our marriage and I reject the allegations that I used my position to sort out her case. I can confirm that I was never involved in Praewa’s case.”