Corrections chief wants royal rites for warder slain by inmates

January 1, 2013
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hostage

Corrections Department chief Suchart Wong-anantachai said yesterday he had applied for royal bathing rites for Suthep Joisriket, a warder slain in Sunday’s hostage drama at Ratchaburi’s top-security Khao Bin Prison. Suchart will attend Suthep’s funeral at Nong Nang Praew Temple.

Besides hosting the funeral, Suchart said the department would help his family and fund his 10-year-old son’s education up to at least a bachelor’s degree and find his widow a job at the department.

Suthep’s widow Kesorn, 46, a homemaker, said she was grief-stricken by what happened and the loss of the family’s breadwinner, while their son had lost his father at such young age.

“We had just talked about celebrating the New Year together but everything collapsed in the blink of an eye,” she said.

Suthep was a kind guard who had worked at the prison for a decade after transferring from Nonthaburi, she said. He was a family man, she said.

Suchart said the incident may affect morale among prison officials but he believed they knew the risks of the job. He affirmed that the department gave importance to guards’ security but would not negotiate with inmates beyond the point of keeping hostages safe.

Acknowledging that guards had been taken hostage several times before, he said it was partly because of manpower limits, as some 10,000 wardens have to cope with 240,000 inmates nationwide.

The current ratio of 10 warders per prison invites inmates to see opportunity in fighting their way out of prison, he said. Other countries have up to 700 guards to handle 1,000 inmates.

On Sunday afternoon, Suthep was held hostage by three life-term inmates after he caught them trying to steal a backhoe to escape. After a stand-off lasting about three hours, inmate Sutthirat Saeng-arthit, a former police officer, surrendered to officials but the other two, Ronnachai Sripankaew and Prasit Saensabai, fatally attacked Suthep, leading to officials’ killing the pair.

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