Death sentence upheld for ex-principal who killed 3

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against a former primary school principal convicted of killing three people, including an infant, during an armed attack Gold shop robbery in 2020.

The court ruled on Wednesday that Prasitthichai Khaewkao did not deserve a reduction in his original sentence, calling the shooting at a shopping center in Lopburi province “outrageous, ruthlessly inhumane” in a statement released on Friday. Four people were injured in the attack and a vendor, a security guard and a 2-year-old boy were killed.

Prasitthichai was found guilty in August 2020 and sentenced to death on charges including first-degree murder, manslaughter in commission of another felony and illegally carrying a weapon. The Court of Appeal also upheld the death penalty in 2021.

The Supreme Court said the defendant should have acted as a good role model for students as a teacher and principal, but instead committed a serious crime. Therefore, there were insufficient grounds to uphold his appeal for reduced sentence.

Security footage of the shooting was widely broadcast, sending a shockwave across the country. A video showed a man wearing a black ski mask and camouflage pants, a backpack slung across his chest and a pistol with a silencer as he entered Robinson Lopburi mall. Another camera in the gold shop showed the man firing his gun and the toddler, who had been walking hand in hand with an adult, suddenly fell to the ground. The man grabbed several gold necklaces before fleeing.

After his arrest, Prasitthichai spoke to reporters and denied that he intentionally shot the infant and other victims. He said he opened fire to intimidate buyers and security guards so he could easily escape.

According to the Department of Corrections, Thailand had 250 inmates on death row at the end of February, 23 of whom had their sentences upheld by the Supreme Court.

Seven people have been executed since Thailand switched from firing squad to lethal injection in 2003. The last execution in Thailand was in 2018.

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