Thai PM orders probe into death of activist in pre-trial detention

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ordered an investigation on Wednesday (May 15) into the death of a young political activist who died after she went on a partial hunger strike during pre-trial detention on charges including insulting the country’s monarchy.

Hundreds of people, including activists and opposition lawmakers, joined a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night for Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, 28, who died in a prison hospital of heart failure while Western diplomats and rights groups mourned her death on social media.

“It is sad about the loss (of life) … and I want to extend my condolences to the family,” Srettha told reporters.

“I have instructed the justice ministry to investigate details about her death,” he said.

Netiporn was jailed in January for contempt of court and her custody was extended after her bail was revoked in a royal insult case, legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. She went on a hunger strike for a month before her health deteriorated.

She started to take some soft food in early April but refused to take vitamins and minerals although she was not in a critical condition prior to her death, the Corrections Department said in a press conference on Wednesday. It added that it is waiting for an official autopsy to determine the cause of death.

“Her vital signs were normal, everything was normal until the emergency,” said Pongpak Areeyapinan, director of the prison hospital.

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