Girl killer suspect freed in case delay

The mother of an 11-year-old girl whose body was found in a culvert on May 12 complained on Monday that the murder suspect had been released without being charged after police delayed submitting the case to the public prosecutor.

Panomwan Ramna, 37, said she had been told earlier by officers in charge of the case that suspect Pra Prathompong Muenban, 35, would be unable to escape his alleged crime because the investigation team had  watertight evidence, especially DNA tests, that led to his arrest on June 4.  

Kedmat “Nong Pleng” Ramna, a Prathom 6 student, disappeared close to her home in tambon Thap Theang of Muang district in Trang on May 9. Her body was found stuffed into a pipe at the entrance to Wat Phra Ngam in tambon Bah Pho three days later.

His DNA was allegedly found on the girl's pants.

Mr Prathompong faced several counts, including premeditated murder and concealment of the body. He denied all charges.

A tearful Mrs Panomwan said investigators had submitted an investigation report to the Trang Office of Public Prosecution on Aug 21, only a week before the maximum of 84 days the law allowed Mr Prathompong to be detained during an investigation.

This resulted in the prosecutors failing to indict the suspect in time, and Mr Prathompong was set free, she said. 

After that, authorities told her the case had been sent to Office of Regional Public Prosecution Region 9  pending a decision on whether to file an indictment, but there was no indication how long that would take. 

Mrs Panomwan complained that investigators and prosecutors had not informed her about the progress in the case, and she had to follow it up by herself.

She said her family was really disappointed with the way the police and other officials handled her daughter’s case, even though they had stressed that the case grabbed high public attention and pledged to bring the culprit to justice quickly. 

Trang provincial police chief Pol Maj Gen Jirawat Udomsook said the investigators had quickly compiled their evidential report in the case and presented it to the prosecutors, as per normal procedure.

He did not know why the prosecutors failed to issue a criminal indictment within the required period, saying he could not intervene with their work.

He insisted the police had performing their duty to the best of their ability and were confident their case was strong.

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