BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Krabi Provincial Court on Wednesday (March 28) handed down the death penalty to six men for the shocking massacre of a village head and seven of his family members, including three children.
The brutal killings occurred at the victims' home in Krabi province last July. Three people survived the execution-style attack.
National police commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda came to the courtroom to listen to the verdict in the high-profile case.
The public was shocked last year to learn that Worayuth Sunglung, a village headman in Ao Luek district, had been shot in the head along with relatives after being held hostage for hours.
Shortly after the killings, police arrested eight suspects including Surifath Bannopwongsakul, also known as "Bang Fath". All of the suspects were prosecuteded.
Surifath reportedly had a dispute with Worayuth after he failed to return land-title deeds to the latter. Worayuth had initially submitted the deeds as collateral for a loan, but after Worayuth repaid his debts, Surifath did not return the documents.
Both men had threatened each other over the issue several times before the massacre occurred.
Krabi Provincial Court on Wednesday convicted Surifath and five other defendants of the massacre, with all of them sentenced to death. Two other defendants, one of them a woman, received jail terms for more minor roles in the crime.
Tawatchai Boonkong was convicted just of intrusion into a private property and stealing valuables of the deceased. He received a 19-month jail term.
Chalita Sangkhachart, the only female defendant in the case, was sentenced to 12 months in jail for hiding the valuables stolen from Vorayuth's wife, who died in the massacre.
Six defendants convicted of the killings were also ordered to pay 60,000 baht (S$2,500) in compensation each year, for a certain period of time, to eight plaintiffs.
Anchalee Prikdam, who survived the massacre, said she was satisfied with the verdict.
Worayuth's father-in-law, Jaree Butrterb, said he would consult with relatives before deciding whether to appeal or to file civil lawsuits against the convicts for financial compensation.
Kriangsak Saraphi, a lawyer for the defendants, said his clients were upset.
"We will definitely file an appeal," he said.
While capital sentences are not infrequent in Thailand, the last execution was more than 10 years ago.