Death sentence upheld for former Thai principle convicted of killing 3 people, including a toddler

Streaming HUBApril 28, 2023

Thailand’s Supreme Court in 2020 upheld the death penalty for a pre-primary school principal convicted of killing three people, including a child, during an armed gold shop robbery.

The shooting at a shopping mall in Lopburi province came after a court ruled on Wednesday that Pratisthanchai Khewkao did not deserve a reduction in his original sentence, in a statement released on Friday. Four people were injured and a sales clerk, a security guard and a 2-year-old child were killed in the attack.

In August 2020, Pratishtichai was found guilty and sentenced to death on charges including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and illegal possession of a firearm, among other charges. The appeals court also upheld the death sentence in 2021.

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The Supreme Court observed that the respondent, as a teacher and a headmaster, should have behaved as a good role model for the students, but instead he committed a serious offence. Therefore, it held that there was no sufficient ground to accept his appeal for commutation of sentence.

Prestigious Chai Khewkao

Center, Pratisthachai Khewkao arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court on August 27, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. Robbery in gold shop in 2020. (AP Photo, File)

Security footage of the shooting was widely circulated and sent a shockwave across the country. A video shows a man wearing a black ski mask and camouflage trousers, with a backpack on his chest, holding a pistol with a silencer as he enters the Robinsons Lopburi Mall. Another camera in the gold shop shows the man firing his pistol, and the child, who was walking hand in hand with an adult, suddenly falls to the ground. Before fleeing, the man snatched several gold necklaces.

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Speaking to reporters after his arrest, Pratishtichai denied that he intentionally shot the child and the other victims. He said that he opened fire to scare shopkeepers and security guards so that he could get away easily.

As of the end of February, 250 prisoners were sentenced to death in Thailand, 23 of which were upheld by the Supreme Court, according to figures from the Department of Corrections.

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Seven people have been executed since Thailand switched from using firing squad to lethal injection in 2003. Thailand’s most recent execution was in 2018.

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