Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Analysis & Opinion by Buring Kantabutra
An underaged (and unlicensed/uninsured) female driver was found guilty of reckless driving that killed nine people and caused extensive damage to public safety and property, even though she was clearly driving at over the legal limits at the time of the accident. Yet, she was given only a suspended sentence and a driving ban until age 25, with just one week’s community service, and no fine.
Neither the killer nor her parents have given any indication of being sorry for what she’s done, not even apologized. To me, the court is sending the message that it’s a minor offence to kill, so long as it’s not done ‘deliberately’.
Taking of life should be the worst crime possibly committed, with due modifications for the age of the perpetrator and lack of intent to kill- yet here the killer was given only a light slap on the wrist.
I can no more defend this verdict than I can defend the renewal of the Emergency Decree by both the Pheau Thai party of Thaksin & Co. and by Abhisit’s Democrats, for, as the UN Special Rapporteur noted, it could be used to justify murder — for it pre-legalizes any act done by the authorities under order.
Such a decree should have been tested in court and found unconstitutional.
I suggest that our courts of law should be courts of justice, with the entire system sending a clear, consistent message that encourages accountability and respect for the equal rights of others. I fail to see how that goal is being achieved now.
Editor’s Note/Brief Summary of this Tragedy:
‘The Accident’ attracted massive national attention because it killed many van passengers, but the girl was photographed immediately after casually using her mobile phone, apparently calmly, right after the fatal crash and seemingly made no visible efforts to assist the victims, whose passengers had been thrown off the expressway.
On the night of Dec 27, 2010, the vehicle, a small Honda, driven by Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, who was 16 at the time, collided with the passenger van on the elevated Don Muang tollway. The van then crashed into a barrier near the Bang Khen exit. Passengers were thrown from the vehicle and fell several meters to the road below while Orachorn sustained only minor injuries. The victims’ families have filed lawsuits seeking tens of millions of baht in compensation. She was charged with unlicensed and reckless driving, causing death. The court initially imposed a 3 year jail sentence but reduced the term to 2 years because she had been helpful, reports said. Orachorn’s prison sentence was suspended for 3 years and she was put on probation.
The court also banned her from driving until she is 25 years old.
Before the court made the ruling, Police Col. Saran Nilawan, the father of Thammasat University 1st year student Chutiporn Nilawan who died in the crash, said the defendant had never apologised for what happened, possibly due to fear that it would affect the case.
Notably, among the victims were Dr. Sastra Chaotiang and Kiattimant Rodaree, who had just graduated from Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of engineering with first class/high honors and secured a job at the National Nanotechnology Centre.
The Central Juvenile and Family Court yesterday convicted the speeding driver of reckless driving that caused the deaths of others and property damages.
As part of the punishment, she was also ordered to report to probation officials every three months and do 48 hours of community service within two years. She will also face a driving ban until she turns 25. The convicted teenager, who was from an elite family, came to the courtroom with her parents and lawyer. She had denied any wrongdoing during trials and looked relieved after the verdict was read.
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