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Victims of horror crash still seeking compensation

Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin na Ayudhya, right, escorted by her mother, reports to police in January 2011 to acknowledge charges of reckless driving over the deadly tollway crash. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

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A "hi-so" woman who killed nine people and injured four others in a 2010 tollway crash has become the subject of renewed criticism after details of a subsequent nine-year court ordeal emerged.

An interview with several relatives of the dead crash victims that aired on a news talk programme on Thairath TV on Monday has sparked public outrage.

In a clip that has gone viral, the relatives told the programme they had not received a single baht in compensation over the past nine years. 

On Dec 27 of 2010, Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin na Ayudhya rammed her car into the rear of a passenger van carrying students and staff from Thammasart University’s Rangsit campus on the Don Muang Tollway.

Orachorn was 16 at the time, and not eligible to hold a licence. She was initially charged with reckless driving causing death.

In 2011, she was also charged with driving without a licence, reckless driving causing death and injuries, property damage, and using a mobile phone while driving.

She was sentenced to three years in prison, which was later suspended.

She was ordered to perform 48 hours of community service annually for four years as a condition of her release. According to an official court document, Orachorn used a different name, Rawinbhirom Arunvongse.

The affected parties then sued Orachorn. On May 8, the Supreme Court ordered her to pay 26 million baht to the surviving victims and the families of the dead victims in amounts ranging from 4,000 baht to 1.8 million baht. The case involved 28 plaintiffs.

Following the Thairath TV programme, one injured victim using the Twitter name "@tintinwaranyoo" posted that he has yet to receive the 4,000 baht due in financial compensation.

He claimed that the lawyer representing Praewa challenged him to pursue the 4,000 baht compensation in a bankruptcy case and offered him a financial settlement of less than 4,000 baht. He did not accept the settlement.

"The lawyer bargained with me to reduce the money as much as possible. It is as if he was bargaining for vegetables and fish in a fresh market," he wrote on his post.

Thawatchai Thaikheo, deputy permanent-secretary of the ministry of justice, said the ministry is ready to offer legal counselling to plaintiffs in the case.

The wrecked passenger van after the Dec 27, 2010 accident. (Photo by Sarot Meksophawannakul)

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