Owner of the gutted and soon-to-be demolished entertainment venue in Sattahip, Pattaya promises to make amends to families of those who died and were injured as he appeared in court facing a negligent homicide charge with police objecting to bail on the basis that the case involved serious criminality. Earlier, the man’s lawyer told reporters that his client may have been mentally ill when he confessed to police at Phlu Ta Luang Police Station.
The wife of the owner of the ill-fated Mountain B entertainment complex where 15 people perished early on Friday morning in an inferno, told reporters on Monday that her husband was not a villain as the Provincial Court released him on bail while 27-year-old Ponsgsiri Panprosong promised to make amends to all those who died or were injured in Friday morning’s horrific fire at his premises. His wife, Mrs Anongnat Panprasong, said he has not slept since the fire broke out. Public outrage and concern over the incident have led the government, led by the efforts of Minister of the Interior General Anupong Paochinda, to pursue a full parallel investigation into officials who may have been culpable in letting the venue operate without proper supervision and a proper licence.
The owner of the Mountain B entertainment complex which was gutted early on Friday morning in a devastating fire which saw 15 lives lost and up to 38 people injured, has been granted bail by Pattaya Provincial Court after appearing before it on Monday in police custody.
The court had earlier approved a warrant for the arrest of 27-year-old Mr Pongsiri Panprasong also known as ‘Sia Bee’ who was arrested on Saturday evening 6th August.
It is reported that the businessman and his wife, 31-year-old wife Anongnat Panprasong, had been liaising with police at Phlu Ta Luang Police Station since the fire broke out on Friday morning during which the owner was actively involved in efforts by emergency services to rescue as many people as possible.
Businessman grilled by police investigators on the fire and the operating of his unlicensed concern
Over the weekend, the businessman was grilled by police investigators after the scale of the tragedy began to unfold and concerns arose about the licencing of the newly built entertainment complex which has already seen several local police officers and officials transferred from their posts as the Ministry of the Interior and the government in Bangkok is demands that no stone be left unturned in a full investigation.
On Monday, Mr Pongsiri appeared before the court on two counts of negligently causing the death of 15 people and operating his business without proper licensing.
At the same time, investigators were erecting scaffolding at the burned-out shell of the premises in the Sattahip district of Chonburi, near Pattaya.
They were there to investigate the cause of the fire with particular attention being paid to the roof area of the structure where the blaze is thought to have begun.
It is understood that after these operations are complete, the building will then be demolished and razed to the ground.
Owner confessed to police and accepted culpability but lawyer later said his client was mentally ill
Mr Pongsiri’s lawyer, Anucha Wongsrirat also known as ‘Xia Bi’, arrived at the Phlu Ta Luang Police Station to meet investigators on Monday morning.
It is understood that the Mountain B owner had reportedly confessed to the charges put to him over the weekend by police and apologised for what happened but his lawyer, on Monday, described his client as mentally ill from the continuous trauma of dealing with the harrowing situation since last Friday morning while also confirming that he had made arrangements to post up to ฿1 million to secure bail for him.
Before the court, Mr Pongsiri again apologised for what had happened and promised to do everything in his power to make amends to the families who had lost loved ones and those who were injured.
Police opposed bail for the owner in court saying it was a serious criminal matter involving homicide
Police prosecuting the case opposed bail for the accused in court and sought his detention during the investigative stage of the case telling the court that it was a serious criminal matter where people had been killed.
The court, however, granted bail to Mr Pongsiri in the amount of ฿300,000 subject to the condition that he wear an ankle bracelet and report at regular intervals to police as the legal proceedings move forward.
Mr Pongsiri told the court that he would use his temporary release to help make restitution to the injured parties and the families of those who lost loved ones.
Before the hearing, his wife, Mrs Anongnat Panprasong, told reporters that her husband was not a monster or a villain and was deeply upset over what happened. She said he had not rested from the minute the fire took hold on Friday morning.
She explained that both herself and her husband accepted full responsibility for what had occurred and were already beginning to do something about it.
Owner of the complex immediately reported to police after assisting emergency services on Friday morning
She revealed that her husband, after working with emergency services, had been dividing his time since last Friday morning between dealing with relatives of those killed or injured and visiting the local police station where he initially offered his full cooperation to officers working on the case.
It is being reported that the owners of the Mountain B premises are provisionally offering compensation of ฿50,000 to the families of each person who perished in the fire and ฿10,000 to everyone injured.
On Monday, a huge bouquet was conspicuous at the Mountain B site together with other offerings from the public, which was marked as from the owners of the Mountain B business.
Currently, there are 34 people reported still in hospital due to the fire of which now sixteen are reported to be in critical condition being treated in intensive care and on ventilators.
Four are reported to be making a recovery while a further fourteen are still being cared for.
Mountain B owners offer provisional compensation
On Saturday, the Facebook page of the Mountain B establishment issued a message of condolences and has since become a focal point for those seeking to liaise with the owners in respect of compensation while the page itself has received a steady stream of critical messages from members of the public demanding that authorities pursue the matter and urging for justice to be done.
No circuit breaker at death trap nightlife spot in Sattahip, Chonburi as 15 people die in horror blaze
After being formally arrested over the weekend, Mr Pongsiri, on Monday morning, appeared before the Provincial Court under warrant number 355/2565.
The businessman appeared overwhelmed by the gravity of the matter and refused to speak with reporters.
After his release on bail by the court, however, he expressed his determination to address his responsibility and role in the disaster.
‘I’m sorry, I’ll fix everything. I will go out to heal everyone,’ he told reporters as he got into a car with his lawyer and made a wai.
Making restitution and assisting victims of crime by those culpable weighs heavily in Thai jurisprudence
Under Thai law, courts take into consideration restitution efforts towards injured parties by those accused in tragedies or even in cases caused by an egregious breach of the law, when delivering their verdict or meting out punishment.
On Monday also, Mr Suthep Chitayawong the Secretary to the Minister of Labour, Suchart Chomklin, presented a cheque for just over ฿1 million to the family of the manager of the Mountain B establishment, one of several employees who was killed in the tragedy as a funeral ceremony was held on his behalf.
It is understood that many of the employees of the business were entitled to benefits under Thailand’s social security fund.
The mother of 31-year-old Wiriya Tangsanga, Mrs Benjamaporn Klaisang, recounted hearing of the news on the media on Friday morning and from phone calls from friends of her son.
She rushed to the scene only to be told that her son had already escaped the inferno raging in the building.
Later, after searching for him at length, she eventually discovered that he had succumbed near the front exit and was among those who had perished.
Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda tells Senate that a disciplinary investigation process is underway to examine the case and ensure good governance
Speaking before Thailand’s Senate on Monday morning, Thailand’s Minister of the Interior, General Anupong Paochinda, told senators that the case was a priority for his department and the government.
He said that while day-to-day responsibilities rested with provincial governors, he saw the case as one which was both a criminal matter and one requiring disciplinary action against any officials who are found to have played a role in allowing the disaster to happen.
He said his ministry sought to uphold the values of good governance, responsibility and transparency
General Anupong disclosed that the government had ordered a complete review of all entertainment establishments in Thailand to determine if they are correctly licensed and fully operating within the requirements of existing legislation and regulations.