BANGKOK — The trial of a businessman who killed two grad students in a high-speed car crash will get underway next month with a verdict expected before year’s end.
Jenphop Viraporn faces seven charges for killing Krissana Thaworn and Thantapat Horsaengchai with his Mercedes-Benz on March 13 on an Ayutthaya highway, including driving under the influence.
“The court told us it will rule on the case by Oct. 31,” Nongkarat Rungsang, Krissana’s younger sister, said by telephone Monday.
For the crash that killed Krissana, 32; and Thantapat, 34; Jenphop is charged with refusing a sobriety test, which under the law automatically leads to another offense, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He also faces charges of fatal reckless driving, driving over the speed limit and resisting law enforcement officers.
The suspect confessed to only one charge of fatal reckless driving and contested all others.
Prosecutor Krisada Rojanasuwan said the court mentioned a verdict could be reached as early as October, but he personally doesn’t think so.
“It may go beyond October because the defendant contests nearly all the charges,” Krisada said by telephone Tuesday.
For the first time since the accident, Jenphop met with and apologized to families of the victims Thursday in an Ayutthaya courtroom.
The meeting was arranged by the court as a chance for the two parties to reach settlement out of court. Nongkarat said Jenphop offered money to the parents of Krissana and Thantapat, but the families rejected it and demanded full legal proceedings.
“We insisted that everything has to proceed under the law,” Nongkarat said. “If there is any settlement, and if we accept any compensation right now, it will lessen the punishment that the court may deliver.”
Nongkarat said her family will only discuss any financial compensation after the criminal case is over.
The March 13 accident that killed the two graduate students drew widespread attention because police initially allowed Jenphop to waive a sobriety test, and did not charge him with any crime until four days had passed.
After the online uproar, national police took control of the investigation and removed the officers in charge. Jenphop, who has free on bail, was indicted May 28. Nongkarat said she’s pleased by recent developments in the case.
“As you see in the news, the first set of police investigators worked slow, and we were not satisfied, but with the new team, we’re satisfied,” Nongkarat said. “We have been working with the investigators. We feel that we are involved in every step. We see what is in the case file. And when the case reached the prosecutors, we were satisfied because the prosecutors took up every charge.”
Not only did the prosecutors file all the charges forwarded by police, they also asked the court revoke Jenphop’s driving license for life and confine him to a psychiatric hospital if he takes up an insanity defense.
Jenphop’s next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 15.