Two drug traffickers on death row at Bang Kwang Prison were executed by lethal injections this evening in Thailand. They were Bundit Charoenwanich, 45, and Jirawat Phumpruek, 52. Both were arrested on March 29, 2001 for having 114,219 methamphetamine tablets in their possession. Convicted of drug trafficking, they were given the capital punishment. Although the death sentence is often commuted to life imprisonment, the Director of the Department of Corrections received a directive from the Prime Ministers office for this sentence to be carried out.
According to Thai newspapers, the execution happened this evening at 5.30 p.m. at Bang Kwang Prison. No-one knew it was going to happen as it was kept a secret from everyone. Lockdown was at 3 p.m. as normal. Then the two prisoners were taken out of their cells on Death Row to be prepared for the execution. This preparation took one hour. They were allowed one call to relatives but they were only given one minute to talk. One of the prisoners rang his home but there was no answer. His mother had just been to visit him that afternoon and probably hadn’t reached home. The prisoner then asked for a favour to call her mobile phone which was granted. Finally he was able to get through to her to let her know that he was about to be executed. The other prisoner spoke briefly to his wife and young son.
The prisoners were also instructed to write a will. The records of the prisoners were brought to the prison from the police station. Their fingerprints were then checked to make sure they had the right prisoner. The execution order from the Prime Minister’s office was then read out to them. They were then given flowers and incense sticks and given an opportunity to say a prayer. They faced towards Wat Bang Praek which is next door and where the cremation will take place. There is a small death door in the wall here. Before the execution, they were offered a last meal. This was a curry and fried asparagus. They were also given an apple and a packet of cigarettes. Obviously they weren’t very hungry. They were then led into the execution chamber where they were given a final blessing and sermon by a monk.
The governor of Nonthaburi and other government officials attended the execution together with reporters. The relatives weren’t present but they will go the prison in the morning to take part in religious rites for the prisoners. The last execution by machine gun was carried out on 11th December 2002. This was then changed to lethal injection. The first and last time this was carried out was 12th December 2003 when four prisoners were executed. This is now the second occasion that lethal injection was used. According to the Department of Corrections, a prisoner is injected with three kinds of drugs consisting of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The first drug is a barbiturate which makes the prisoner unconscious. The second one is a muscle relaxant which can paralyze the entire muscle and stop breathing. The last one stops the heart and causes cardiac arrest.
This is a sad day for Thailand. I am sorry but I don’t believe in the death penalty and I certainly don’t believe in the lethal injection as the method.