Ex-headmaster loses death sentence appeal over Thai shooting

Ex-headmaster loses death sentence appeal over Thai shooting

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thailand’s Supreme Court has rejected the final appeal of a former headmaster sentenced to death for the murder of three people, including a toddler, in an armed robbery in 2020, officials said Thursday.

The two-year-old boy was outside a jewellery store in the central city of Lopburi when Prasittichai Khaokaew burst in, firing indiscriminately, in January 2020.

A security guard and a sales assistant were also killed and four more people were wounded in the robbery, which saw the ex-primary school head flee with jewels worth US$16,500.

He was eventually apprehended by commandos following a manhunt.

“His behaviour was cruel and inhuman, unlike his occupation as a school headmaster. There is not enough reason to reduce the penalty,” the court said in a statement released Thursday.

The court said Prasittichai had behaved “outrageously” and confirmed the death sentence imposed by the kingdom’s lower courts.

“There is no reason that the Supreme Court would change that,” it said.

Thailand has 250 prisoners on death row, according to the Department of Corrections, but executions are rarely carried out.

The last prisoner put to death was a 26-year-old murderer executed by lethal injection in 2018.

Most death sentences are commuted to life imprisonment, either by the courts or by the king as an act of royal clemency.

Human Rights Watch Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson urged the kingdom to downgrade the man’s sentence to life in prison.

“Thailand should abolish the death penalty once and for all, if it truly wants to be considered a rights-respecting state,” he told AFP.

Amnesty International death penalty advisor Chiara Sangiorgio said those convicted of heinous crimes should be held accountable for their actions in fair proceedings.

“But the death penalty is not the answer,” she said.

Southeast Asia — particularly Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore — has long faced criticism from rights groups over capital punishment.

The Thai court’s decision comes in the same week that Singapore hanged a prisoner convicted of conspiracy to smuggle one kilogram of cannabis.


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