BANGKOK, Jan 20, 2016:

The almost-completed investigation on Chiangmai’s bus accident late last year in which 13 Malaysian tourists lost their lives, has found the bus driver to be negligent while driving, resulting in the death of the passengers.

Investigation officer at the province’s Doi Saket police station, Police Captain Sanan Promna said they had compiled more than 500 pages of investigation papers on the case.

“He (the bus driver) confessed during the investigation that he drove the bus negligently, causing the death of passengers but denied being involved in a ‘hit-and-run’ incident with other vehicles.

“We almost completed the case, and we are only waiting for the (driver’s) drug test from Nakornping Hospital in Chiangmai on whether he was under the influence of drugs or narcotics while driving at that time,” he told Bernamatoday.

According to Sanan, the bus driver could face additional charges if he was found to be taking drugs, adding that the police would forward the investigation papers to the public prosecutor soon. The bus driver, he said, remained under police detention on the third remand order since the accident, as Thailand’s law permitted a remand order to be extended up to seven times.

The police officer said the bus driver would most probably be charged under Section 291 of the Thai Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht (RM2,400) if found guilty.

The authority, he said, wanted to complete the investigation expeditiously and would file the investigation papers to the public prosecutor after receiving the bus driver’s drug test.

“This is an important case as it involved many people from Malaysia and Thailand,” said Sanan.

Thirteen Malaysians were killed and nine others injured when the tour bus they were travelling in skidded into a ravine after colliding with a pick-up truck in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand on Dec 20. The bus was heading to Chiang Mai from Chiang Rai province when it collided with the truck. The bus driver, according to Sanan, claimed that he was unable to apply the brake due to brake failure, thus causing the accident but police investigation showed he was speeding despite Chiang Mai and Doi Saket’s steep mountainous terrain.

On the fate of two Malaysian victims still undergoing treatment at Chiangmai’s Bangkok Hospital, he said, he was informed by their relatives that they would be discharged next week.

The two Malaysians, he said, had been recovering well and were able to walk now.

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