Public outcry after Thai army cadet's organs go missing

BANGKOK: Thailand's military faced mounting pressure yesterday to explain the death of a teenage army cadet, whose case has seized national attention after his parents discovered his organs were mysteriously removed from his body.

The army said first-year cadet Pakapong Tanyakan died of heart failure late last month at his army training school outside Bangkok.

But his family was sceptical and ordered a second autopsy - only to find his brain, heart, bladder and stomach were missing.

The shocking discovery sparked public outcry and accusations of a cover-up by a military dogged by allegations of beatings and other abuse against young recruits.

The army has continued to deny foul play in Mr Pakapong's case, saying doctors removed his organs for further inspection and were not required to inform his family.

But thousands in the junta-run nation have signed an online petition calling for the resignation of the cadet's commanders.

Yesterday a government spokesman said four military officers had been transferred while an investigation is ongoing.

"To help cope with all sides' uneasiness, the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters has transferred officers who are involved with this case so that they will not interfere with the evidence or witnesses," Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

He added that junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha was "deeply sorry" to hear about the cadet's death.

Mr Pakapong's family told reporters their son had described physical abuse throughout his time at the school, including a hazing exercise that led him to faint in August. - AFP