Update Sept. 14: Pvt. Kacha Pacha died at a hospital on Sept. 14 after he spent weeks in a coma.
LOPBURI — A young soldier beaten into a coma by his superior officers earlier this week is now brain dead, his family said Friday.
Hope that Pvt. Kacha Pacha, 22, who was beaten senseless in an army barracks Tuesday, would recover from his injuries dimmed after brain activity could no longer be detected on his third day of hospitalization.
“I heard on Thursday morning he was getting better, moving his hands and feet. I was happy all day, but after his brain stopped working, I still can’t come to terms with it,” his 48-year-old father, Komchun Pacha, said.
Komchun was among Kacha’s relatives who visited the barracks Friday morning where he was assaulted to hold a tearful ceremony calling out to the deceased 22-year-old husband and father.
“Come back to your wife and kids, come see your parents, my child,” his mother, who was not named, can be heard crying out in a live-stream video of their visit.
Wansina Boonta, pregnant with their second child, told the media yesterday they forgave three senior soldiers, who prostrated and plead for forgiveness at Kacha’s hospital bedside Thursday, saying that they “did not intend for this to happen.”
He said the family forgave them because they did not want vengeance. The army commander of the unit Kacha was in, Lt. Col. Monchai Yimyoo, admitted to not taking care of his unit well enough.
“I’m not vengeful, angry or blaming Lt. Col. Monchai,” Kacha’s father, 48-year-old Komchun Pacha, said Thursday night. “I see it as an unavoidable accident that stemmed from fleeting emotions that weren’t handled maturely. I would like to thank Lt. Col. Monchai for coming to help take care of Kacha and us all day.”
The three soldiers asked the Pacha family not to go public with the story, but the family said they talked to the media for fear no justice would be served, as happened after the death of 19-year-old cadet Pakapong Tanyakan last year. His family cried foul after his body was returned by the military missing vital organs – including tissue paper stuffed into his skull. The army has denied responsibility and said he fell down some stairs.
Nine months after his death, the investigation is going nowhere, according to his sister, Supicha Tanyakan. His cause of death hasn’t even been officially confirmed.
Komchun, Kacha’s father, said he understood the soldiers had been annoyed and jealous of his son. The soldiers would video call Kacha while he was having dinner at home and demand he do pushups on camera for them. Still, Komchun, who had also been a soldier, said he was been beaten like that while in the army.
“I understand if training is harsh because I was a draft soldier at Camp Navamin, 21st Regiment,” the distraught father said. “I was trained harder than this, but upperclassmen never beat me up. If we had conflicts, we talked it out.”
Violence against lower-ranking soldiers and recruits are a perennial problem in Thailand’s military. Each year, several stories enter the national conversation to be dismissed by senior military leaders and little serious effort at reform.
Army higher-ups have tried to distance Kacha’s assault from the organization.
“It’s not hazing. The army has no hazing these days. This is a personal dispute between young men,” Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart, army commander-in-chief said. “Don’t worry. Physical abuse happens when soldiers fight, but if someone is wrong we will proceed accordingly.”
Correction: A previous version of the story misidentified an assaulter.