A senior at Phuket Rajabhat University has admitted to subjecting a freshman to gruelling punishment during cheerleading practice which may have contributed to her death, the Royal Thai Police said.
The student is among the four students which local police summoned in for questioning on Sunday. Police said the student, whose identity was not revealed, has been charged with fatal recklessness.
Police said the student acknowledged the charge and was released without any bail requirement, as investigators said the student was not considered a flight risk, deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said on Monday.
If convicted, the student faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht.
The other three students were not charged because investigators determined they played no role in ordering the punishment which contributed to Phornphiphat “Mint” Eaddam’s death, the deputy spokesman said.
The 19-year-old, first-year humanities student passed out as she was running her sixth lap around the university’s campus at about 7 pm on Wednesday. Media reports said she was made to run eight laps around the campus by her seniors because she made eight mistakes during the cheerleading practice.
After Phornphiphat passed out, she was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital’s intensive care unit where she was pronounced dead on Thursday evening.
Doctors who examined Phornphiphat said she died from heart failure.
Pol Col Kissana said the police would soon wrap up its investigation and forward the case to prosecutors, who will decide whether or not to indict the senior student.
Phornphiphat’s parents can also sue the senior student for damages, he said.
The university may also face a lawsuit if it could be established that it failed to enforce regulations which could have prevented such tragedy and/or closely monitor students’ activities.
The university has maintained Phornphiphat’s death was not caused by on-campus hazing.
Meanwhile, Phuket provincial police chief Theerawat Liamsuwan said the police have so far questioned 15 people, including Phornphiphat’s family members, her seniors and teaching staff at the university.
Pol Col Theerawat said the student admitted to ordering Phornphiphat to run 200 metres as punishment for failing to perform in sync with the rest of the cheerleading team.
After passing out, Phornphiphat was taken to the hospital five kilometres away on a motorcycle. Doctors said her heart had already stopped beating even before she arrived at the hospital where she was pronounced dead, the provincial police chief said.
He added the doctors confirmed Phornphiphat did not sustain any physical injuries prior to her death.