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Thai govt rules out death penalty for rapists

The ministry’s third-ranking official, Tawatchai Thaikyo, posted the comments on Monday on his Facebook page amid growing outrage over the suspected rape and murder of a 27-year-old teacher, whose alleged attacker was a convicted rapist who lived in her apartment building.

The woman’s death has prompted calls for harsher penalties for rapes and capital punishment for fatal rapes.

Capital punishment is legal in Thailand for 35 different crimes, including drug offenses, terrorism, national security crimes, murder and fatal rapes. But in practice, the death penalty is rarely used. The last execution was carried out in 2009 for two drug traffickers.

“If raping equals the death penalty, it would encourage rapists to kill all victims to shut their mouths,” said Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Tawatchai Thaikyo.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we require all convicted rapists to undergo a rehabilitation program and give them support to prevent them from committing such crimes again?” 

Part of the public anger is over the prison system’s failure, in this case, to rehabilitate. The main suspect in the attack Friday is a 27-year-old factory worker who was released from prison last August after serving less than two years behind bars for raping a friend’s wife.

He initially told police that he lived a few doors down from the teacher and knew her apartment door was broken, so he sneaked in late Friday with the intention of raping her but she fought back so he killed her, local media reported.

He later changed his confession to say he had no intention of raping but only wanted to rob the teacher. Another neighbour found the woman’s naked body, her throat slashed, the day after the attack.

The suspect, identified as Chatree Ruamsungnoen, was arrested Saturday and police canceled a subsequent reenactment of the crime, which is common in Thailand when suspects confess, over concern he would be attacked by angry mobs. 
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